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Jordan: New study finds that internet service providers are violating customers' privacy; Orange and the government of Jordan respond

A recent study jointly conducted by ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies (London) and Access Now (New York) has revealed that the five existing international service providers in Jordan are allegedly collecting often intrusive user information, without prominently disclosing that fact or explaining how the data are used.

The study alleges that Zain, Orange, Damamax and TE Data do not clearly divulge the personal information they collect from customers on their websites. The report also mentions that while Umniah provides clarity to the user that their personal information will be used, the company does not provide further information on use the extensive information it collects.

The report called on Jordanian ISP companies to modify their privacy policies to include clear explanations of personal information collected, and who uses it, where and how.

Reacting to this report, The Jordanian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has issued a statement reaffirming commitment against ISPs' violations of user privacy.

The Ministry of Digital and Entrepreneurship emphasized that data privacy remains a national priority and that consultations are taking place with civil society.

The Business and Human Rights resource centre has approached Orange, Umniah and Zain for response. Only Orange responded and the company's response is below. The Business and Human Rights Resource was not able to approach Damamax and TE Data for response.

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9 December 2019

Jordan: The four internet service providers allegedly violating customers' privacy

Author: Impact International

“New study: Jordanian ISPs violate customers’ privacy”, 10 November 2019

Customer privacy is routinely violated by…prominent Jordanian ISPs [Internet Service Providers], reveals a study conducted by ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies...and Access Now. The study showed…ISPs…collecting often intrusive information, without…disclosing…or explaining how the data is used. “…the results were shocking and draw great concern…”, Sami Zeno, ImpACT International. The study focused on five of the largest ISPs in Jordan - Zain, Orange, Umniah, TE Data and Damamax. Visiting the companies’ websites and posing as callers to their…hotlines…, ISP staff and customers [were surveyed] on awareness of company practices and the importance of personal data-protection…

…Zain, Orange, Damamax and TE Data do not clearly divulge the personal information they collect from customers on their websites. Umniah is clear - if customers notice the link at the bottom of its home page - but says nothing about how [such information] will be use[d]: “our sites or…our apps will automatically collect…the type of mobile device,…contact information, friends lists, login information, photos, videos…, check-ins [and] any other information stored on your device”.

“The study has additionally established clear guidelines for the Jordanian government and telecoms companies”…Dima Samaro, Access Now. Zain was the only ISP that clearly stated that it collects such personal information,…[but] like all buy one of the [ISPs], [it] does not address customers’ right to compensation if their rights are violated. [Umniah]…states…customers relieve [them] of…legal responsibility for the misuse of their data. ImpACT International…and Access Now conclude that none the ISPs examined...fully respect and comply with human rights principles, and…users in Jordan face a real threat to their privacy. ISPs…doing business in [Jordan] process personal data for EU citizens visiting or working in Jordan, [meaning] that…[they] should [also] comply with [GDPR]...


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9 December 2019

Jordanian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority promises to investigate and take measures against violation of the privacy fo subscribers in telecommunication services

Author: Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Jordan)

“Confirm actions against any violation of the privacy of the participants”, 13 November 2019

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Authority) affirmed that it will not fail to investigate and take the necessary measures against any violation of the privacy of subscribers in telecommunications services in Jordan, in response to what was published about [in] a [recent] study...

[The] Authority called on all the beneficiaries of…communication services to file a…complaint…in the event that the licensees violated the privacy clause in the contract signed with the subscriber. [T]he Telecommunications Law No. 13 of 1995 (the Act), is concerned with protecting the interests of the beneficiaries of telecommunications and information technology services, including maintaining the confidentiality of the beneficiaries' data..."Telephone calls and private communications are considered confidential matters whose inviolability cannot be violated. This is subject to legal liability”. Also, [such] data may not be disclosed except under court orders…

The [Authority] confirmed that it is concerned with…private subscription contract[s] between the licensees and the beneficiaries of telecommunications services, and the extent of the licensees commitment to contracts approved by the [Authority]. Article 5 of the [Act]…“the first party is obligated to maintain the confidentiality of the information of the second party and not to disclose it, except…that the second party agrees to publish, or…upon an official request from the [Authority].

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Company response
9 December 2019

Orange responds to ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies and Access Now report

"With reference to the study conducted by ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies and Access Now published in November 2019 with a title of “Jordanian ISPs violate customers' privacy”, Orange as a telecom licensee operating in the Jordanian market, gives a primary attention to customers’ information privacy and applies prudent industry measures to ensure that customers’ information are properly protected. 
Although the Personal Data Protection Law is still under review and approval by the Jordanian Government,  the requirements for customer information privacy are addressed in many applicable laws and regulations, as well as the telecom license agreement and subscription contracts with customers. Orange reiterates its full compliance with all legal and contractual requirements for customers’ information privacy. "

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9 December 2019

Statement from Jordanian Ministry of Digital Economy & Entrepreneurship on ISPs violating user privacy

Author: Ministry of Digital Economy & Entrepreneurship (Jordan)

“Violating customer privacy and protecting personal data”, 11 November 2019

[There was a] recent study spread about the major internet providers in Jordan violating the privacy of their customers…, allowing them to monitor their use of Internet, and record their browsing history…

The Ministry of Digital and Entrepreneurship would like to emphasize that [it]…is working on organizing and protecting personal data and that this is a priority,…the Ministry [having] started working on [the issue] before [the publication] of this study. The [Ministry] has since prepared a draft law on the protection of personal data which is in its final stages and has been submitted to…public consultation more than once. [T]he law will address…confidentiality, security and control of personal data,…[imposing] penalties in the event of violations. The Ministry has held meetings…with [many] stakeholders on the subject, from the public and private sectors, [academia] and civil society organisations…to express their opinions and observations on [the draft law’s] contents…

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Company non-response
9 December 2019

Umniah did not respond

Company non-response
9 December 2019

Zain did not respond

Zain did not respond