Failure to provide clear definitions in a new law banning online pornography will hamper its enforcement, the government is being warned.
Legislator Abdullah Azwar Anas of the National Awakening Party (PKB) said the government must clearly define the terms "immorality" and "pornography" contained in the law on information and electronic transactions passed by
the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The law criminalizes the use, transmission and provision of pornographic websites.
The law only briefly states providers and transmitters of information or pictures with immoral content could face a maximum sentence of six years in prison or a fine of up to Rp 1 billion (US$107,000).
Abdullah said although the terms immorality and pornography were still debated between feminist activists and conservatives, there needed to be an exact parameter upon which the two disputing groups could agree.
I think nudity certainly falls within the category of pornography, he said. The lawmaker said the government had a one-year period to draft regulations to enforce the law and publicize it before it is implemented.
National Commission for Child Protection chairman Seto Mulyadi said clear-cut definitions of immorality and pornography were important to avoid controversy over the new law.
I think pornography includes pictures or information that can arouse sexual desire. It doesn't necessarily mean nudity. In many cases, nudity can serve as an educational object, let's say for example in biology class, or as an artistic object.
Information and Communications Minister Muhammad Nuh told Reuters members of the public had asked the government to block sites with violent and pornographic content, out of concern about their negative impact as more Indonesians gain access to
the Internet. Nuh's office has made available software to block websites with adult content. The software can be downloaded from the ministry's website.
It plans to begin blocking all adult sites from April 1.
Hackers took over an Indonesian government website for several hours to protest against a new law banning online pornography, the information ministry said.
The protesters posted a message on the ministry of information website challenging it to prove that the law was not drafted to cover the government's stupidity.
Indonesia's parliament have just passed a law against producing or accessing websites with pornographic or violent content.
The message seemed to be directed at the law that was just passed by parliament, said ministry official Ferdinandus Setu, adding the site was taken down for a period but was now back to normal.
The new law, which has still to be approved by the president, provides for a maximum penalty of six years in jail or a fine of up to 1 billion rupiah ($110,000) for disseminating pornographic material online.
The ministry said it would start distributing software Saturday to allow Internet users to block pornographic sites.
Sylvia Sumarlin, who chairs the Indonesian Internet Providers Association, warned that it would take time to block all pornographic sites. We have recommended that the government form a body to check websites and block unacceptable ones
throughout the country. The government accepted our recommendation, but it will take time to implement it and in the meantime the ministry is recommending the use of the filtering software.
The Indonesian government has pledged to have all porn websites blocked in the country within the next two months as it works to implement the country's strict anti-pornography laws.
We should not wait for too long to close down these sites because otherwise more will people copy and disseminate this material, said Tifatul Sembiring, the Minister for Communication and Information Technology.
Tifatul noted that pornography was already prohibited by law, pointing to the 2008 Anti-Pornography Law, which was upheld recently by the country's Constitutional Court. That law declares, in part, that the state should protect its citizens
from the dangers of pornography.
So if God is willing, we will fulfill our obligations, otherwise the continued presence of this material will violate our law, he said.
Tifatul explained that the government's move comes in response to a request from Islamic groups and the Indonesian Commission to Protect Children.
He says the government will shut down objectionable domestic sites and ask the country's 180 internet service providers to block international porn sites. A spokesman for the ministry told Canada's Globe and Mail that the government has not
decided yet whether they will impose sanctions on ISPs that do not comply.
The Communications and Information Technology Ministry says it can block access to up to 3,000 pornographic Web sites a day, as part of Minister Tifatul Sembiring's plan for smut-free Internet.
Ashwin Sasongko, the ministry's director general for telematics applications, said that his office had already installed filtering software called the Massive Trust Positive in all Internet-enabled computers supplied to villages under the
government-sponsored Desa Pintar (Smart Village) program.
He acknowledged, however, that with an estimated four million new pornography pages added to the Internet each day, it would be impossible to completely block access to such sites for Indonesian Web users, and called on the public to participate
by reporting offending sites.
But Internet service providers say they need the government to formalize its policy before they can take steps toward blocking the content.
Valens Riyadi, from the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII), told the Jakarta Globe that a regulation on the issue was necessary, to ensure that what we do [in terms of filtering sites] doesn't violate public's right to
Ashwin, however, argued that ISPs were better-placed to identify offending sites, saying it should not be too difficult to filter pornographic content on the Internet and that the ministry would provide them with the list if officially
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Telecommunications Users Group said it supported the ministry's antipornography campaign, but questioned how effective it would be, given that many Indonesians access the Internet through their cellphones.
It's technically quite difficult to filter sites for a BlackBerry user, so we wonder if the government plans to rope [manufacturer] Research in Motion into doing the filtering, said Muhammad Jumadi, the group's secretary general.
Meanwhile, ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto told the Globe that the controversial bill on monitoring Internet content was currently being revised, after being widely panned by the public in February. The changes include a new title, Guidelines for Public Complaints on Unlawful Internet Content,
signifying its change of focus to get increased public participation in the plan.
Reports from the public should be justifiable and will be reviewed by a monitoring team, whose proposed makeup we've also changed to include 60 percent public appointees and 40 percent government representatives, Gatot said, adding that
the team's chairperson would be selected through a vote.
The Indonesian Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring's new internet censorship strategy calls for rewarding citizens who report porn sites.
We will keep on blocking pornographic contents with various innovations, such as giving special rewards to members of the public who report porn sites to us, Sembiring said.
The anti-porn official did not say what rewards would be offered and didn't comment as to whether the campaign could backfire by having more people surf for porn in an effort to weed out what the country describes as offensive material.
The latest salvo launched against online porn asks the public to report the sites via a telephone hot-line.
Sembiring claimed that his ministry's efforts have successfully blocked 90% of porn sites. But reports say that most of the Ministry's previously targeted sites are still operating.
Indonesia's Communications and Information Ministry claims it has blocked nearly 1 million sites that carry pornographic content.
Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring said the censorship of porn sites was in line with the government's commitment to provide safe sites accessed by Indonesians and build a more positive character for the nation.
We've blocked more than 983,000 porn sites. We will keep on doing it, Tifatul said during a seminar on the Healthy and Safe Use of the Internet. Tifatul added that the censorship would in turn improve people's ethics in using the Internet
for positive purposes.
Indonesian communication and informatics minister Tifatul Sembiring declared its anti-porn mission a jihad, that he says will continue to the end of time. He told the religious griup Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI):
I have often told young, religious teachers to never stop once they start jihad. A jihad may also be in the field of information.
Sembiring said that Indonesian officials have been able to block about a billion sites for carrying pornographic content, surmising that there are a minimum of three billion such sites in existence.
Antara News reported that Sembiring has come under heavy criticism after banning Vimeo wholesale.
This week, the Indonesian government has forced ISPs to forcibly turn on content filters on search engines by default, which can't be switched off. The new policy has seemingly been extended to Youtube as well, with many netizens now complaining
that the video streaming site's restricted mode feature has been irreversibly switched on, limiting what they can watch.
Based on numerous social media posts, the Youtube restriction applies to users of certain ISPs, both on mobile internet and home internet. Netizens are reporting that even Taylor Swift and K-Pop music videos are being filtered out.
While the government did not say anything about Youtube being included in their recent censorship push, some ISPs like Indosat Ooredoo have been replying to complaints from customers about the Youtube restriction, placing the blame on the
government. The ISP tweeted:
Hi, Youtube's restricted mode is a government regulation designed to prevent the public from accessing pornography.