INDONESIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net OBSTACLES TO ACCESS Access to the internet has grown dramatically since 1998, when the government reported that only 0.26 percent of the population had used the medium.1 By 2009, Indonesia had an estimated 20 million internet users, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).2 In June 2010, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCI) reported that the number had reached 45 million, or approximately 18 percent of the population.3 Access has not been evenly distributed across the country due to poverty and poor infrastructure in rural areas. Given Indonesia’s archipelagic geography, cable infrastructure has been costly to provide and is mostly confined to urban areas, particularly on the islands of Java and Bali. Consequently, although the number of broadband internet connections has doubled since 2006,4 broadband service remains prohibitively expensive or otherwise unavailable to many Indonesians. A personal broadband internet connection currently costs 75,000 to 160,000 Indonesian rupiah (US$8-14) per month; by comparison, the average monthly per capita income among the poorest segments of the population is 200,000 rupiah (US$22),5 and in Jakarta the minimum wage for workers is about 1.million rupiah (around US$122) per month.6 Most of those with home broadband connections are therefore middle- or upper-class urban residents, particularly in cities on Java. Cybercafes have played a key role in enabling internet access to penetrate every corner of Indonesia at a relatively low price.
The growth of internet access via mobile phones has been a positive development, as prices are relatively affordable and the cost of the necessary infrastructure is far less than for cable broadband. Telkomsel, the largest mobile-phone service provider, has reported that mobile-phone internet service is available in all major cities and the capitals of all regencies. International Telecommunication Union, “ICT Statistics 2000—Internet,” http://www.itu.int/ITUD/icteye/Reporting/ShowReportFrame.aspxReportName=/WTI/InformationTechnologyPublic&ReportFormat=HTML4.0& RP_intYear=2000&RP_intLanguageID=1&RP_bitLiveData=False.
International Telecommunication Union, “ICT Statistics 2009—Internet,” http://www.itu.int/ITUD/icteye/Reporting/ShowReportFrame.aspxReportName=/WTI/InformationTechnologyPublic&ReportFormat=HTML4.0& RP_intYear=2009&RP_intLanguageID=1&RP_bitLiveData=False.
Ardhi Suryadhi, “Pengguna Internet Indonesia Capai 45 Juta”[Indonesian Internet Users Reach 45 Million], Detikinet, June 9, 2010, http://us.detikinet.com/read/2010/06/09/121652/1374756/398/pengguna-internet-indonesia-capai-45-juta.
BuddeComm, 2007 Asia—Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in Indonesia and Timor Leste (Bucketty, Australia: BuddeComm, 2007), http://www.budde.com.au/Research/2007-Asia-Telecoms-Mobile-and-Broadband-in-Indonesia-and-Timor-Leste.html.
Badan Pusat Statistik, Jumlah dan Presentase Penduduk Miskin, Garis Kemiskinan, Indeks Kedalaman Kemiskinan, dan Indeks Keparahan Kemiskinan, Menurut Propinsi, pada Maret 2009, [Central Bureau of Statistics, Number and Percentage of Poor Population, Poverty Line, Poverty depth index, and index of severity of Poverty, by Province, March 2009], http://www.bps.go.id/tab_sub/view.phptabel=1&daftar=1&id_subyek=23¬ab=3.
“UMP Jakarta 2010 Naik 4,5 Persen” [Jakarta Per Capita Minimum Wage increases 4.5 percent in 2010], Kompas.com, November 13, 2009, http://megapolitan.kompas.com/read/2009/11/13/18491935/UMP.Jakarta.2010.Naik.4.5.Persen.
Chanuka Wattegama, Juni Soehardjo, and Nilusha Kapugama, “Telecom Regulatory and Policy Environment in Indonesia:
Results and Analysis of the 2008 TRE Survey,” March 18, 2008, p. 8 [henceforth “TRE Survey”], http://www.lirneasia.net/wpcontent/uploads/2009/07/TRE_Indonesia_2009Mar18.pdf.
INDONESIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net Such widespread service, together with the proliferation of cheaper phones and related devices, has contributed to a drastic increase in the number of internet users over the past two years. Between June 2008 and June 2009, the number of mobile internet users rose from 300,000 to over one million.The Indonesian government, and especially the MCI, has made the expansion of internet usage a priority. It has decreased tariffs on fixed-line and mobile-phone use, and launched a program to establish so-called Smart Villages (Desa Pintar), which would have good internet access and mobile-phone reception. The aim is to enable all villages to have internet access by 2014.9 Separately, civil society groups have promoted the RT/RW Net product, despite the fact that it is currently prohibited by the government. The system uses wireless technology to allow multiple users to share a broadband connection, thereby reducing the cost of access per household significantly.The video-sharing site YouTube, the social-networking site Facebook, and international blog-hosting services are generally available without interference. Indeed, the number of Indonesian Facebook users has grown exponentially in recent years, from million in 2009 to over 30 million by the end of 2010, the second most users in the world.However, in April 2008 the minister of communication and information sought to limit circulation of the anti-Islamic Dutch film Fitna in Indonesia after coming under pressure from groups such as the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), the country’s official council of Muslim clerics. The minister ordered ISPs to “immediately use all effort to block all sites and blogs which post the Fitna movie.” ISPs across the country consequently blocked access to content-sharing sites including YouTube, MySpace, Multiply, RapidShare, and Metacafe.
In response, several corporations filed lawsuits against the Association of Indonesian Internet Service Providers (APJII), requesting compensation for lost marketing and advertising revenue, while individual users circulated petitions urging the government to retract the ban on the applications. After about a week, the government yielded to public pressure and withdrew its order. Spire Research and Consulting, “Indonesia: Asia’s Mobile Internet Success Story,” Spire E-Journal (December 2009), http://www.spireresearch.com/pdf/archive/ejournal-dec09/Indonesia%20Asia%27s%20mobile%20internet%20success%20story.pdf.
Suci Astuti, “Depkominfo Sampaikan Program Kerja 100 Hari” [The Ministry of Communication and Information Conducts a 100 Day Program], Elshinta Radio, November 23, 2009, http://www.elshinta.com/v2003a/readnews.htmid=82635.
Harry Sufehmi, “Kalengbolic, Solusi Internet Kecepatan Tinggi & Murah Meriah” [Kalengbolic, The Fastest and Cheapest Internet Solution], Harry.Sufehmi.com (blog), April 7, 2008, http://harry.sufehmi.com/archives/2008-04-07-1628/; interview with Harry Sufehmi, Second Deputy Chairperson of Open Source Association of Indonesia (AOSI) and information-technology practitioner, May 17, 2010.
Nick Burcher, “Facebook Usage Statistics—March 2010 (with 12 month increase figures),” Nick Burcher (blog), March 31, 2010, http://www.nickburcher.com/2010/03/facebook-usage-statistics-march-2010.html.
Geoff Thompson, “Indonesia Bans YouTube, MySpace,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), April 10, 2008, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/10/2212779.htmsection=entertainment; “Download Surat ‘Ultimatum’ Menkominfo Untuk Pemblokiran” [Download the Warning Letter from The Ministry of Communication and Information on (internet) Blocking], Detikinet, April 4, 2008, http://www.detikinet.com/index.php/detik.read/tahun/2008/bulan/04/tgl/04/time/175015/idnews/918570/idkanal/INDONESIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net The government responded more mildly in May 2010 when an account on Facebook promoted a competition to draw the prophet Muhammad. Organizations including the Islamic Group Forum and the Indonesian Student Action Muslim Union urged the government to ban Facebook,13 but rather than issuing instructions to block the full application, the authorities sought to focus their censorship measures on the account in question. Officials sent a letter to Facebook urging closure of the account, asked all ISPs to limit access to the account’s link as the content was in violation of the ITE Law, and invited the Indonesian Association of Internet Cafe Entrepreneurs to restrict access to the group.
Due to opposition from bloggers and civil society, however, ISPs disregarded the government’s requests, and the account remained accessible. While commending the decision not to fully block Facebook, free expression advocates raised concerns over government officials’ attempt to use the incident to energize plans to censor the internet more systematically.Indonesia has a range of privately-owned digital media service providers, though some are known to have close ties to government ministers. As of 2007, there were ISPs operating throughout Indonesia, the six largest being Bakrie Telecom, Indosat, Indosat Mega Media, Telkom, Telkomsel, and dan XL Axiata.15 This dominance, together with regulatory obstacles imposed by the government, have created a significant barrier for small ISPs to enter the market legally. As of early 2010, there were 9 mobile-phone service providers, of which the most prominent were PT Telkomsel, PT Indosat, and PT XL Axiata, with Telkomsel itself covering 50 percent of the market.16 The country’s main network-access providers (NAPs), which link retail-level ISPs to the internet backbone, are concentrated on Java, and particularly in Jakarta.
Government permission is required to develop internet infrastructure and establish cybercafes, and some analysts have attributed the lack of infrastructure in much of the country to ineffective regulation and restrictive government policies.17 The MCI, with its Directorate General of Post and Telecommunication (DGPT), is the primary body Hanin Mazaya, “Panggil ISP, Menkominfo akan blokir Facebook” [Call your ISP, The Minister of Communication and Information will block Facebook], Arrahmah.com, May 20, 2010, http://www.arrahmah.com/index.php/news/read/7894/panggil-isp-kominfo-akan-blokir-facebook.
Aliansi Jurnalis Independen [Alliance of Independent Journalists] (AJI), “RPM Konten Multimedia adalah ‘sensor 2.0’” [Multimedia content of RPM is Censor 2.0], news release, May 20, 2010, http://www.ajiindonesia.org/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=224:aji-rpm-konten-multimedia-adalahsensor-20&catid=14:alert-bahasa-indonesia&Itemid=287.
Ministry of Communication Information Technology (MCI), “Press Conference of Minister of Kominfo Tifatul Sembiring on Preparation of Plan for Blocking Internet Porn,” press release, August 10, 2010, http://bit.ly/9N8NWk.
Hendarsyah Tarmizi, “Mergers and acquisitions inevitable in mobile phone industry,” Jakarta Post, March 1, 2010, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/03/01/mergers-and-acquisitions-inevitable-mobile-phone-industry.html;
Direktorat Jenderal Pos dan Telekomunikasi, Kementerian Komunikasi dan Informasi, Buku Statistik Bidang Pos dan Telekomunikasi 2009, [The Directorate General of Post and Telecommunication, The Ministry of Communication and Information, Statistics Book on Post and Telecommunication 2009], http://www.postel.go.id/webupdate/Download/Data_Statistik_Smt-1_09.pdf; TRE Survey, 9.
TRE Survey, 12.
INDONESIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net overseeing telephone and internet services; it is responsible for issuing licenses for ISPs, cybercafes, and mobile-phone service providers. In addition, the Indonesia Telecommunication Regulation Body (BRTI) conducts regulation, supervision, and control functions related to telecommunications services and networking. In practice, there is an unclear overlap between the mandates and work of the two agencies. Based on the ministerial decree that established it, BRTI is supposed to be generally independent and includes nongovernment representatives. However, observers have questioned its effectiveness and independence, as it is headed by the DGPT director, and draws its budget from DGPT allocations.LIMITS ON CONTENT The introduction of the internet has expanded Indonesians’ access to information, as they are no longer dependent on traditional media (television, radio, and newspapers) for news.
Many Indonesians, especially those from the urban middle and upper classes, have adopted the internet as their main information source. In response, the government’s approach to the internet has shifted as well. In March 2008, the government passed the ITE Law, which broadened the authority of the MCI to include supervision of the flow of information and possible censorship of online content.19 Since then, several initiatives have raised the possibility of increased censorship, though none appear aimed at systematically targeting content critical of the government or current administration. Strong opposition from civil society and, to an extent, from ISPs has successfully derailed some such plans.
Following enactment of the ITE Law, the ministry began exploring ways to restrict content deemed to constitute a disturbance to public order, but few measures had been taken by the end of 2009. In early 2010, the ministry published a draft Regulation on Multimedia Content that, if implemented, would require ISPs to filter or otherwise remove certain material. The types of content listed include vaguely worded categories such as pornography, gambling, hate incitement, threats of violence, exposure of private information, intellectual property, false information, and content that degrades a person or group on the basis of a physical or nonphysical attribute, such as a disability.20 The regulation TRE Survey, 16.
Article 40(2) of ITE Law states that “the government, in compliance with the prevailing laws and regulations, aims at protecting public interest from all forms of disturbances that result from the abuse of electronic information and electronic transaction. Law No. 11 of 2008 on Electronic Transaction and Information, available at http://www.setneg.go.id/components/com_perundangan/docviewer.phpid=1969&filename=UU%2011%20Tahun%.pdf.
Ministry of Communication and Information, “Tentang Sikap Kementerian Kominfo Dalam Menyikapi Peningkatan Maraknya Penyalah-Gunaan Layanan Internet” [About the Ministry of Communication and Information’s Stance in Addressing the Increase of Internet Service Abuse], news release, February 11, 2010, http://www.depkominfo.go.id/berita/siaran-pers-no22pihkominfo22010-tentang-sikap-kementerian-kominfo-dalam-menyikapi-peningkatan-maraknya-penyalah-gunaan-layananinternet/.