Indonesia Unblocks Popular Gambling Sites, PayPal Following Public Pressure — BenarNews


Indonesia’s communications ministry on Tuesday restored access to internet services, including Yahoo, PayPal and some gaming platforms, amid public outcry and threats of street rallies, days after blocking them to make Comply with new government rules.

The ministry had given online platforms until July 20 to register to allow the government to monitor banned content or deal with bans. Activists have criticized the rule as an affront to free speech.

“Access to four electronic system providers has been restored since 8:30 a.m. today,” said Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, director general of information applications at the ministry. He was referring to Yahoo and three popular gaming platforms from Valve Corp.

Semuel said communication with online vendors led to the decision even though, on Tuesday, Yahoo and Valve – a US game developer – failed to register on the ministry’s site.

PayPal, meanwhile, has pledged to comply, Semuel said. Many freelancers who work for companies in foreign countries rely on the service to receive payments.

On Sunday, the ministry allowed temporary access to PayPal for five days after it was blocked to allow users to withdraw their money and switch to another service.

Johnny G. Plate, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, said 66 major providers had signed up, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The ministry said the November 2020 regulations requiring registration aim to protect domestic users from prohibited content defined as content that violates laws, causes discomfort or disturbs public order.

Under the regulations, platforms are required to comply with most content removal orders within 24 hours and within four hours for urgent requests to remove content involving terrorism, sexual abuse images on children or content that causes “disorder in society or disturbs public order”.

The regulation applies to companies providing online services and carrying out online activities.

Required information includes a contact person to receive any content removal requests, number of users and transactions from Indonesia, and a commitment to provide access, including for law enforcement purposes. .

Those who fail to comply could receive a written warning, temporary suspension, administrative penalties or have access to their platforms blocked, according to the ministry.

Freedom of information groups have warned that the regulations’ provisions could undermine citizens’ rights as they could be used as a pretext to ban critical speech.

Netizens had threatened to gather outside the ministry building in central Jakarta to protest the bans as police threatened to arrest anyone who became unruly.

“The benefits are unclear”

Popular blogger Enda Nasution urged the government to review the regulation, saying there was no urgency to implement it.

“Any regulation should not disadvantage the public. What benefits implementing this rule will bring are unclear,” Enda told BenarNews.

Nenden Sekar Arum, head of the free speech division at the Southeast Asia Free Speech Network (SAFEnet), said banning online platforms was not a solution.

“Perhaps now those affected by the bans are quite relieved because access to digital platforms has been restored. But that doesn’t mean the same thing won’t happen again based on the ministerial regulation,” Nenden said. at BenarNews.

“We want the bylaw repealed.”

Many of the 270 million Indonesians are prolific users of social media. In recent years, government officials have warned that terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State militant group, are using online platforms to spread propaganda and recruit young Indonesians.

In 2017, the government agreed with YouTube and Twitter to strengthen oversight by allowing selected users to report content deemed to be terrorism-related.

Since 2014, Indonesia has imposed the so-called Internet Positive program, which consists of blocking pornographic websites and those whose content is deemed negative, including Reddit and Vimeo.

Critics have said that because some sites generally considered harmless are also blocked, the program is akin to internet censorship.


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