INDONESIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net also calls for the creation of a Multimedia Content Screening Team, which many fear would essentially function as an internet censorship body.21 The team would consist of 30 people and be headed by the DGPT director; half of the members would be government officials, and the other half would come from civil society, most likely from groups closely affiliated with the government.22 The panel’s tasks would include identifying websites with illegal content, and taking punitive measures, such as imposing fines or revoking the licenses of providers that enable the content’s continued circulation. The draft regulation includes no procedure for appeals of a team decision; while affected users might file a civil suit, that would not be a practical or timely remedy for inappropriate content removal, given the Indonesian courts’ already large backlog of cases.
The announcement of the draft regulation prompted strong opposition from society, especially from ISPs and journalists.23 The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) raised concerns over the vague wording and broad range of information that would be affected, as well as the creation of a government-run content control institution, particularly one that would target advanced web applications. It argued that such a mechanism would not be in compliance with the Indonesian constitution or the Press Law, and urged the government to instead set up a more diverse, multi-stakeholder commission to regulate internet content.Following the public outcry, the government announced that it would take time to process suggestions from the public before proceeding with the draft regulation.25 Nevertheless, the proposal was not formally terminated, prompting fears that it might be resurrected in the future.
To date, the authorities are not known to have placed any restrictions on content addressing political issues, criticizing the authorities, or spreading ideology that is not in line with that of the government. However, in August 2009, after arresting Muhammad Jibril, publisher of a radical Islamist website and magazine,26 for allegedly arranging funding for bombings at two hotels in Jakarta the previous month, the authorities temporarily shut Enda Nasution, “Selamat Datang Lembaga Sensor Internet Indonesia” [Welcome to the Institute of Indonesian Internet Censorship], Politikana, February 12, 2010, http://www.politikana.com/baca/2010/02/12/selamat-datang-lembaga-sensorinternet-indonesia.html.
Carolina Rumuat, “SOS Internet Indonesia,” Global Voices, February 17, 2010, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/02/17/sos-internet-indonesia/.
Southeast Asian Press Alliance, “Media Group Asks Indonesian Minister to Junk Controversial Internet Regulation Draft,” news release, March 18, 2010, http://www.seapabkk.org/newdesign/alertsdetail.phpNo=1235.
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.
Bagus BT Saragih, “Tifatul to Ease Back from Pushing Through Web Bill,” Jakarta Post, February 25, 2010, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/02/25/tifatul-ease-back-pushing-through-web-bill.html.
“Situs Ar-rahmah Milik Muhammad Jibril Tak Bisa Diakses” [Arrahmah website of Muhammad Jibril is not accessible], Metro TV News, August 26, 2009, http://metrotvnews.com/index.php/metromain/newsvideo/2009/08/26/89056/Situs-Arrahmah-Milik-Muhammad-Jibril-Tak-Bisa-Diakses.
INDONESIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net down his website, Arrahmah.com.27 In addition, in July 2010, the DGPT issued a letter ordering all ISPs to block access to websites carrying pornography. The instructions left the decision of which particular websites to filter in the hands of the ISPs themselves.28 Although the letter is not fully legally binding, by December 2010, six of the largest ISPs had reportedly complied with the request. Many smaller ISPs provided subscribers with the option to choose for such content to be blocked. In practice, users wishing to nonetheless access the websites have had little trouble circumventing the censorship.
Some restrictions on content have been carried out under pressure from private actors, sometimes with ties to prominent politicians, as occurred with the Okezone online news website, a subsidiary of the MNC media group, one of Indonesia’s largest.29 In 2008, the Attorney General’s Office uncovered a corruption scandal involving the Directorate General of General Legal Administration in the Law and Human Rights Ministry. Among those implicated in the scandal was a top executive of the MNC group. The company’s owners subsequently intervened in and directed Okezone’s coverage of the scandal.
Okezone’s reporters were required to dedicate a disproportionate share of their reporting to one of the accused in the scandal, Sarana Rekatama Dinamika, or to Yusril Ihza Mahendra, then minister of law and human rights. An AJI report analyzing the coverage found that of 80 reports on the scandal, Okezone cited Dinamika as its primary source 16 times, and Mahendra 15 times. Only 10 citations referred to the attorney general’s office.30 Okezone also deleted from its website information considered unfavorable to Dinamika. Queries to Okezone’s internal search engine turned up 81 news titles that mentioned the scandal, but only 48 of the articles were actually accessible.The development of Indonesia’s blogosphere began between 1999 and 2000, with most early blogs written by Indonesians living abroad and working in the field of information technology. In 2001, the younger generation came to dominate Indonesian blogs, largely writing about their daily lives. By 2005 and 2006, blogs had begun to specialize in various topics, including politics, economics, media, food, and entertainment.
The number of bloggers reached 50,000 by the end of 2006, and according to blogger Enda Nasution, the figure ballooned to 1.2 million by 2009.32 Only a few blogs play a watchdog Agence France-Presse, “Indonesia Arrests Second Man Over Bomb Funds: Police,” Hindustan Times, August 26, 2009, http://www.hindustantimes.com/Indonesia-arrests-second-man-over-bomb-funds-police/Article1-447051.aspx.
Reporters Without Borders, “Government Orders ISPs to start Anti-Porn Filtering,” International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), August 11, 2010, http://www.ifex.org/indonesia/2010/08/11/anti_porn_filtering/.
According to a survey by Alexa Internet in April 2009, Okezone was ranked as the 23rd most visited website in Indonesia.
Okezone uploaded on average 300 news articles a day. MNC group is one of the biggest media groups in Indonesia. It owns television stations such as RCTI, TPI, Global TV, and SUN TV, and newspapers such as Seputar Indonesia and Kanal Okezone.
Further information is available at http://www.mnc.co.id/.
“Geger di Sisminbakum, Sunyi di RCTI dan Okezone, dalam Wajah Retak Media: Kumpulan Laporan Penelusuran,” [Dispute in Sisminbakum, Quiet at RCTI and Okezone, the Negative Face of Media: Fact Finding Report] (Jakarta: AJI Indonesia, 2009).
Stefanus Yugo Hindarto, “Blogger Belum ‘Jamah’ Indonesia Timur” [Bloggers not yet reached Eastern Indonesia], Okezone, June 21, 2010, http://techno.okezone.com/read/2010/06/21/55/345116/.
INDONESIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net role by scrutinizing government activities, although these blogs have been extremely important in exposing incidents of corruption. They are typically maintained by nongovernmental organization (NGO) activists, human rights lawyers, or journalists.
The internet as a whole nevertheless serves as an important source of information on political issues and related discussions. In the run-up to the 2009 presidential election, the use of Google searches to seek out information about candidates grew exponentially, with searches for incumbent president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono increasing by 625 percent, and those for his main challenger, Megawati Sukarnoputri, rising by 40 percent between January and July.33 Similarly, research noted an increase in Facebook postings citing the term “jilbab,” which in Indonesia refers to a Muslim woman’s headscarf; the topic had become a wedge issue during the campaign.Civil society groups have used the internet to mobilize and advocate against government censorship plans. After the enactment of the ITE Law, NGOs formed a coalition called the Indonesia National Alliance on Cyber Law Reform (ANRHTI). It consisted of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), the Institute for Policy Reform and Advocacy (ELSAM), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the AJI, and the Legal Aid Center for Press (LBH Pers).
One prominent example of effective mobilization against internet censorship was the case of housewife Prita Mulyasari, one of the first people brought to court under the ITE Law. She was arrested in May 2009, held for three weeks, and charged with defamation for an e-mail message she circulated to friends and relatives in which she criticized her treatment at a private hospital in Tangerang. The PBHI published a press release on Prita’s detention,35 and she soon gained popular support, including from bloggers; five NGOs submitted an amicus brief to the Tangerang District Court in October, as it was examining her criminal defamation case.36 In December, the Banten High Court ruled against Prita in her appeal of the parallel civil case, ordering her to pay 204 million rupiah (US$19,600) in damages to the Omni International Hospital.37 The blogging community responded with a huge campaign called Koin Keadilan, or Justice Penny, and succeeded in collecting more Scott Hartley, “Google: Tomorrow’s Silicon (Not Crystal) Ball,” Internet and Democracy Blog, July 15, 2009, http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/idblog/2009/07/15/electionprediction/.
Scott E. Hartley, “Reading Google in Jakarta,” Foreign Policy, July 6, 2009, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/07/06/reading_google_in_jakartapage=0,1.
Nadya Kharima, “UU ITE Makan Korban Lagi” [ITE Bill creates a victim again], Primaironline, May 28, 2009, http://primaironline.com/berita/detail.phpcatid=Sipil&artid=uu-ite-makan-korban-lagi.
“Kasus Prita: Lima LSM Ajukan ‘Amicus Curiae’” [Prita case: 5 NGOs submit Amicus Curiae], Kompas.com, October 14, 2009, http://megapolitan.kompas.com/read/2009/10/14/16474375/Kasus.Prita:.Lima.LSM.Ajukan..quot.Amicus.Curiae.quot.
Cyprianus Anto Saptowalyono, “Humas PT Banten: Putusan buat Prita belum berkekuatan hukum tetap” Banten Corporate Public Relations: Verdict for Prita does not have legal power], Kompas.com, December 7, 2009, http://m.kompas.com/news/read/data/2009.12.07.13135791.
INDONESIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net than 600 million rupiah on her behalf.38 By the end of 2009, the hospital had decided to drop the civil suit, and Prita won her criminal case in Tangerang District Court, which acquitted her on all charges.39 Nevertheless, her case and other prosecutions under the ITE Law have contributed to an increased atmosphere of caution and self-censorship among online writers and average users. The public campaign against the proposed Regulation on Multimedia Content also utilized online platforms, with many Indonesians submitting their protests directly to the communication and information minister’s Twitter account, or writing about the issue on their blogs.Another incident reflecting the growing role of social media in political mobilization in Indonesia stemmed from charges filed against the leadership of the Indonesian AntiCorruption Commission (KPK). In November 2009, the national police declared the two KPK deputy chairs, Bibit Samad Riyanto and Chandra Hamzah, to be extortion suspects.
After wiretap recordings revealed a conspiracy to discredit the widely respected KPK, and many came to believe that the new arrests were part of the plot, an ordinary Indonesian citizen set up a Facebook group called “Gerakan 1.000.000 Facebookers dukung Chandra Hamzah & Bibit Samad Riyanto,” (The Movement of 1 million Facebookers to support Chandra Hamzah & Babit Samad Riyanto),41 which quickly grew to more than half a million members, and had 1.3 million by August 2010.42 As of December 2010, the attorney general’s office reportedly planned to drop the charges, under a legal provision enabling such action to protect the “public interest.”VIOLATIONS OF USER RIGHTS The constitution guarantees freedom of opinion in its third amendment, adopted in 2000.The guarantee also includes the right to privacy and the right to gain information and Mega Putra Ratya, “Penghitungan selesai total koin Prita Rp. 650.364.058” [Counting of Coins for Prita has collected a total of Rp. 650,364,058], Detikcom, December 19, 2009, http://m.detik.com/read/2009/12/19/113615/1262652/10/penghitungan-selesai-total-koin-prita-rp-650364058.
Ismira Lutfia, Heru Andriyanto, Putri Prameshwari, and Ronna Nirmala, “Prita Acquitted, But Indonesia’s AGO Plans Appeal,” Jakarta Globe, December 29, 2009, http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/prita-mulyasari-cleared-of-allcharges/349844; Yudi Rahmat, “PBHI Apresiasi putusan hakim PN Tangerang di Kasus Prita” [PBHI appreciates verdict of Tangerang State Court judge in Prita Case], Primaironline, December 29, 2009, http://primaironline.com/berita/detail.phpcatid=Sipil&artid=pbhi-apresiasi-putusan-hakim-pn-tangerang-di-kasus-prita.
For example, prominent blogger Antyo Rentjoko’s writings about the draft regulation can be found at http://blogombal.org/2010/02/13/mendidik-masyarakat-siapa-mendidik-siapa.
The Facebook group is located at http://facebook.com/group.phpgid=169178211590.
Peter Gelling, “Indonesia: Corruption Junction,” GlobalPost, November 9, 2009, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/indonesia/091106/indonesia-corruption-kpk.
“Police Admit They Have No Recordings in Bibit and Chandra Case,” Jakarta Globe, August 11, 2010, http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/police-admit-they-have-no-recordings-in-bibit-and-chandra-case/390619; Peter Gelling, “Indonesia: Corruption Junction,” GlobalPost, November 9, 2009, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/indonesia/091106/indonesia-corruption-kpk.