Interview: Majd Shweikeh

How is strategy being developed to guarantee data protection and advance cybersecurity?

MAJD SHWEIKEH: In 2012 the government of Jordan passed the National Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Strategy with the objective of providing a structure that involves and empowers all concerned entities to more effectively secure computer networks, and to operate, control and interact with such networks. In addition, the step is aimed at strengthening Jordan’s ICT infrastructure for both public and private sectors so that the national ICT infrastructure is robust, secure and trusted in order to have the desired positive impact on the economy.

Currently, the Ministry of ICT (MoICT) is leading efforts to draft and finalise a personal data protection and privacy law. The Cybercrimes Law has been in effect since 2010, but the threat of cyber-crimes cannot be mitigated unless all the entities of the Jordanian criminal justice system are aware about the developed and advanced technology of computers. The MoICT is also working with the ICT Association of Jordan and the private sector on the REACH initiative, which is part of Vision 2025. The 10-year plan maps the country’s future path, defining an integrated general framework to govern social policies, macroeconomic policies and monetary policies, based on opportunity for all. It also aims to increase competitiveness, productivity and self-reliance, and to guarantee consistency in a bid to foster comprehensive and sustainable development. The ICT sector is one of the key areas of the REACH initiative where cybersecurity and data protection play a major part.

To what extent is strategy being shaped to further incentivise IT exports?

SHWEIKEH: The MoICT’s strategy is calling for three main actions to increase IT exports. These are: facilitating intersections between ICT and other high-value-added sectors; matching local products, services and capabilities with ICT export market needs; and developing a national export house. The National ICT Strategy attempts to provide simple and practical recommendations to improve exports as a way of increasing the sector’s contribution to the national economy and providing job-creating opportunities. IT-enabled services, such as call centres and business process outsourcing, have become new subsectors that also create new untapped areas for growth. Moreover, the ICT sector can focus efforts on the development of Arabic-language-based digital content targeting regional export markets. In April 2016, in order to turn Jordan into an ICT centre, the government responded to the MoICT’s recommendation and granted the IT sector a package of promotions and exemptions, where sales taxes were reduced to zero on all IT activities, and income tax became 5% instead of 20%.

How is regulation strengthening intellectual property (IP) protection?

SHWEIKEH: Given the importance of IP to the country’s economy, Jordan signed several international conventions for the protection of these rights and to implement the IP Laws. Jordan is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, which has managed IP conventions since 1984. Jordan also joined the World Trade Organisation after the completion of all the necessary requirements. The government is still working on these issues, especially regarding trademark registration and copyright.

IP in Jordan is protected through an array of different legislative acts. These laws include the Copyright Law, Trademark Law, Patent Law, Law of Industrial Designs and Models, Law on Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets Law, as well as the related ministerial regulations, instructions and policies. Together they help to establish a complete system of IP rights.