A glimpse into the perception of “digital privacy” in Jordan

Current View

Executive Summary

Edward Snowden’s revelations set off a global debate about how states and the private sector should protect the “right to privacy” in practices of access, sharing, and manipulating digital personal data and citizens’ private communications. International civil society and nongovernmental organizations called on states and private companies for better legislative protection of privacy, transparency of access and storage, and manipulation of private data. Technical international groups have also debated the possibility of protecting communication and personal information through making the network private by design.

In Jordan, a state with a population of seven million and a 73 percent Internet penetration rate, “the right to private communication” is constitutional. While little information is available on data access and sharing practices among telecommunication companies and government agencies in Jordan, conventional knowledge that “someone is listening in” has always existed among citizens. Despite the anecdotal scattered stories on official interception of phone calls and emails, the debate over legislation of privacy and data protection is still in its early stages because of a lack of documented evidence on data collection and sharing practices. This qualitative research project is the first attempt to investigate the concept of digital privacy in Jordan by capturing the perceptions, behaviours, and experiences of people working in the human rights field. It aims to demonstrate the community’s understanding of digital privacy, behaviours to secure communication, and participants’ vision of a fair legislative framework that will protect their constitutional right to privacy. We consider the following research questions:

• To what extent are different human rights actors in Jordan conscious of the concept of digital privacy? What constitutes digitally private zones for them? What factors facilitated the formation of these perceptions?

• How have these perceptions affected their communication behaviors and their use of the Internet and social media networks?

• What are their perceptions of the legitimacy and regulation of third parties accessing information online?

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