Several days ago, social media users in Indonesia were shocked by the Tumblr blocking policy released by Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Government stated that the blocking policy was in accordance to the procedure. It was triggered by government’s finding of 360 Tumblr accounts which contain pornographic materials.[i] Also, the blocking policy was executed after Tumblr did not respond to the warning from the government to make them do a self-censorship mechanism. [ii]
Basically, this is not the first time we witness a blocking policy in the country. Before Tumblr, there were Telegram, 11 websites allegedly containing radical contents, and Vimeo who were among the victims.[iii] Protest usually arises almost in every blocking policy that is considered as odd, exaggerated, and harmful to the society as the consumer.
Absurdity of The Blocking Policy
The government always refers to the Electronic Information and Transaction Act Number 11 of 2008 and the Regulation of the Minister of Communication and Information Number 19 of 2014 when it comes to their blocking policy. [iv][v] Unfortunately, those regulations still have many infirmities. The Article 40 of Electronic Information and Transaction Law states that the government must protect the society from any kinds of interference erupted from digital activities. Referring to that regulation, the government has the right to block the access of every site that is considered to be against the law.
The problem is, is it reasonable for the government, as the executive body, to determine which sites are against the law and which are not? Court has more right to decide that does not it? [vi][vii] Moreover, the determination of sanction given by the Government also does not have clear provisions or indicators. [viii] Consequently, this kind of policy creates acute law uncertainty.
Sovereignty or Authoritarianism?
The absurdity of the blocking policy is exacerbated because the government does not consider the people’s rights as content owners and internet users. [ix] In the case of Tumblr, the government automatically closed the access of thousands of contents from Indonesian citizens on Tumblr. Whereas, other than the accounts which contain pornographic contents, there are also thousands of other accounts which have positive contents. Ironically, when the government declared to the society to make positive contents on internet, the government still blocked their contents even when they didn’t do anything wrong.
If the government insists on blocking the access of platform which does not have self-censorship mechanism to pornographic content, then the government should have blocked Twitter too, because Twitter doesn’t have sufficient self-censorship system. [x] In the case of distribution of pornographic contents on social media, Twitter has a great impact. [xi][xii] As an example, a pornographic video of one of the students from a prestigious university in Indonesia has been viral on Twitter. However, the government is indeed faced with a difficult situation if they want to block Twitter which has 50 million users in Indonesia. [xiii]
As we could observe, it was suspected that the blocking policy was executed as an experiment for the government as well as a government’s intention to increase their bargaining power in controlling social media activity. The government wants to have power in determining platform policies and the ability to control internet users – both consciously or unconsciously – about what can and cannot be written and accessed. On the contrary, the blocking policy indicated that the government did not have enough power to push the platform to adjust to the user policy. We can see a lot of platforms which are ‘against the law,’ but are still widely accessible.
So, which platform do you want to block next, Chief?
Editor: Atin Prabandari MA(IR)
[i] Anjani, P. (2018) Netizen tak terima dan mengeluh melalui cuitan tumblr tak bisa diakses jadi trending topik twitter. [online] Tribun News Online. Available at: http://jatim.tribunnews.com/2018/03/06/netizen-tak-terima-dan-mengeluh-melalui-cuitan-tumblr-tak-bisa-diakses-jadi-trending-topik-twitter [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[ii] AFP. (2018). Indonesia block online blogging site. [online] Daily Mail UK. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5467291/Indonesia-blocks-online-blogging-site-Tumblr-porn.html [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[iii] Hidayat, R. (2016) Ketika Pemerintah Makin Digdaya Memblokir Situs. [online] Tirto.id. Available at: https://tirto.id/ketika-pemerintah-makin-digdaya-memblokir-situsnbsp-nbsp-b5tq [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[iv] Electronic Information and Transaction Act Number 11 of 2008
[v] Regulation of the Minister of Communication and Information Technology Number 19 of 2014
[vi] Hidayat, R. (2016) Ketika Pemerintah Makin Digdaya Memblokir Situs. [online] Tirto.id. Available at: https://tirto.id/ketika-pemerintah-makin-digdaya-memblokir-situsnbsp-nbsp-b5tq [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[vii] Ngazis, A. (2016). ICT Watch Blokir Situs Tunggu Putusan Pengadilan. [online] Viva.co.id. Available at: https://www.viva.co.id/digital/digilife/608893-ict-watch-blokir-situs-tunggu-putusan-pengadilan [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[viii] Hidayat, R. (2016). Mencari Mekanisme Pemblokiran yang Tepat. [online] Tirto.id. Available at: https://tirto.id/mencari-mekanisme-pemblokiran-yang-tepat-b5tK [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[ix] Article 28 F, The Constitution of Indonesia 1945
[x] Twitter. (n.d.). Rules and Policies. [online]. Available at: https://help.twitter.com/id/rules-and-policies/media-policy [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[xi] Smith, C. (2013). How videos go on viral on twitter. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-videos-go-viral-on-twitter-2013-8/?IR=T [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[xii] Gabielkov, M., Ramachandran, A., Chaintreau, A., dan Legout, A. (2016). Social Clicks: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter? [online] HAL-Inria France. Available at: https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01281190/document [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]
[xiii] Deliusno dan Wahyudi, R. (2015). Pengguna Twitter Capai 50 Juta. [online] Kompas.com. Available at: https://tekno.kompas.com/read/2015/03/26/16465417/Pengguna.Twitter.di.Indonesia.Capai.50.Juta [Accessed 8 Mar.2017]