The Existence of Indonesia Cyber Police: What does it mean for Us Netizens?
February 5, 2021 4:05 pm ||
The year 2020 has been repeatedly dubbed as the most unexpected year. In January 2020, I was sure that nobody expects a global pandemic to spread, forcing us to stay at home for nearly a year long. And yet, I can confidently say that we welcome the year 2021 with the same question we had back in 2020: what’s in it for us in 2021? Will it be anything like 2020 had to offer?
If we are to look in the context of our everyday lives, I reckon that this phygital life of ours will continue. The phygital life, as explained by Stillman and Stillman, is a life where the line between the real world (physical) and the digital world is blurred or even nonexistent. I think this definition fits our current world, where cyberspace became the space where we work, study, entertain ourselves, and other activities that are usually done in the real world.
One of the most important things we do in the digital world is to seek information. And I believe that this poses a new problem for the Indonesian netizens, in which hoaxes and fake news are so heavily widespread as we surf the Internet. In August 2020, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics reported that there are 1.106 hoaxes on Covid-19 that were spread across 1.912 platforms. Masyarakat Anti Fitnah Indonesia (Indonesian People Against Slandering– Mafindo), a non-government organization that collaborated with cekfakta.com, reported the number of hoaxes spreading in Indonesia keeps increasing as time goes on. In 2018, the number of hoaxes reported reached 997 cases, then in 2019, it increased to 1.221 cases and increased even further in 2020 to reach 2.024 hoaxes. The spread of many contents of hoaxes and other misinformation and disinformation such as these may cause chaos, worry, and even panic among people. Thus, the government is considered necessary to be among us in such a situation.
Coordinating Legal, Political, and Security Affairs Minister of Indonesia (Menko Polhukam) Mahfud MD stated that in 2021, cyber police would be fully activated. This statement then invites many pros and cons among the people. On the one hand, cyber police’s existence is a true testament of the government’s existence in cyberspace. But on the other hand, the existence of cyber police may also pose a threat against the freedom of speech itself. Out of all things we may expect in 2021, I believe that this issue is very close to our everyday lives. Thus, in this writing, I will try to explain what cyber police are, what they do, and what it means for us ordinary netizens going about our phygital life.
Cyber Police: Who are they, and what do they do?
The term Indonesia Cyber Police refers to a team under Indonesia Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim Polri) that is tasked to enforce the law against cybercrimes in Indonesia or more commonly known as Cyber Crime Directorate (Dittipidsiber). The cyber police have a different function than the Badan Siber dan Sandi Nasional (BSSN). BSSN is an agency that regulates the regulation of cybersecurity, whereas Dittipidsiber is the agency that enforces the law in cyberspace. For the most part, there are 2 categories of cybercrime that are handled by the cyber police: 1) computer crime—the cybercrime that uses computer as the primary tool of crime operation such as hacking, data manipulation, web phishing, and cyber attacks against digital security system; and2) computer-related crime—the cybercrime that uses computer as the facilitator of crime. Criminologists named Jewkes and Yar stated that computer-related crimes are old wines in new bottles, which means that all crimes that got a new flavor’ in the digital world fall under this category. Some examples of computer-related crime will be the proliferation of porn videos, online gambling, spreading hoaxes, and hate speech.
The Head of Multimedia Bureau of The Indonesian Police Force’s Public Relation Division, Brigadier General of Police Force Budi Setiawan, highlights that the duty of cyber police or cyber patrol are to ensure the safety of cyberspace from the spread of hoax, slander, and hate speech that are meant to disturb the peace and safety of Indonesian people. To do patrols in the cyberspace, they will find, observe, monitor, and even predict everything that can be a potential threat. This further confirms Menko Polhukam’s statement that cyber police’s existence will act as a counter-narration for fake news.
In the global scene, cyber police exist in many other countries as well. There are approximately 38 countries in the world that have created an organization to handle their cyber-related affairs. Most of them are more-or-less named National Cyber Security Agency. Our neighboring countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, have their own cyber police. The duties, responsibilities, and authorities of each National Cyber Security Agency in their respective countries are not that much different from Indonesia’s cyber police, preventing and handling cybercrimes in their own countries.
They’re Here; What should we do?
The existence of cyber police itself has garnered plenty of opinions from the public. Some House of Representatives members mentioned that the existence of cyber police is not considered functional if they are only used to combat hoaxes. Simultaneously, there are many other crimes such as online scams/fraud and identity theft. There are also concerns from the general public and political observers that cyber police’s existence may cause a deadly effect that threatens the freedom of speech and potentially made the security officials act in a repressive manner.
Menko Polhukam himself realizes that the existence of cyber police is a very dilemmatic thing. If the government is silent and does not take any action against cybercrime and hoaxes as they run rampant, then the people will question the state’s existence. Whereas if the government were taking an action (by activating cyber police), they would being accused of threatening the public’s civil rights. I myself believe that issue on the government’s existence in the cyberspace is an extremely dilemmatic one since on the one hand, people need the state to protect them in the cyberspace; meanwhile, on the other hand, cyberspace is where the general public is free to express their aspiration towards the state itself.
The public’s fear of the threat against their freedom of speech is not a baseless one. According to the data released by Statistics Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik–BPS), even though Indonesia’s Democracy Index increased, civil freedom has been decreasing. This aligns with the internal survey created by The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) that involved 1.200 respondents across 34 provinces that 36.2% of Indonesian people feared expressing their opinions and critiques through online platforms/social media.
The existence of cyber police among us Indonesian netizens increases the feeling of ‘being watched’ by the government. I believe that cyber policy is the starting point that our life in cyberspace will be much more attached to our life in the real world. Even though Menko Polhukam Mahfud MD has guaranteed that the cyber patrol won’t threaten the public who wanted to express their critiques and opinion, I am of the opinion that we as netizens have to keep thinking critically and see the aspect of security given by the cyber polices without blinding ourselves towards the counter-narration given in every issue. 2021 has just begun, so we all can ready ourselves to evaluate what cyber police’s existence means for us netizens: will there be a meaningful decrease in cybercrimes? Or will the government repress our freedom of speech in the digital world? Let’s see for ourselves.
Author: Irnasya Shafira
Editor: Amelinda Pandu Kusumaningtyas
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