Indonesia has banned several websites over the weekend for noncompliance with a new regulation. It requires "private electronic system providers" to register with the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo) and turn over specific users' data. The law also requires companies to remove content that "disturbs public order" or that the Indonesian government considers "illegal."
Kominfo has blocked eight services and games in the country, including Yahoo, Steam, Counter-Strike, Epic Games, Origin, Xandr, and PayPal. However, the PayPal prohibition had an unintended negative impact on customers because it effectively locked them out of their accounts.
"[PayPal customers] may access the website until August 4 to migrate, get their money, and find other services," according to Kominfo General Director Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan.
Steam and Epic Games accounts have been suspended, and some of the purchased games are no longer playable, as Valve is currently working on getting registered in Kominfo's database to restore service to its customers in the region as quickly as possible. It wishes to avoid losing two of its most significant revenue streams, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike.
Kominfo has already reached out to these businesses to ensure compliance with the regulations and reverse the block. Here is a list of affected services: pic.twitter.com/6K121xVEMP
Apple, Microsoft, Google, TikTok, Twitter, Netflix, and Spotify are among the firms that have already bowed the knee to Indonesia's harsh law. The bans will not be permanent until companies follow the rules, according to Pangerapan.
Indonesia is not the only country to enact draconian measures such as MR5. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) notes that Germany got the ball rolling in 2017 when it passed its "NetDG" legislation, which requires online service providers to block or remove content that the government does not like, and it does not even require a court order. Since then, Venezuela, Australia, Russia, India, Kenya, the Philippines, and Malaysia have all passed similar legislation.
Although these measures may be effective, they do not make them any less tyrannical.
"Failure to comply with these requirements results in huge fines," said the EFF in 2021, when Indonesia joined the authoritarian bandwagon. "This creates a chilling effect on free expression: platforms will naturally choose to pursue removing gray area content rather than risk the consequences."
The EFF believes that MR5 and other similar legislation are a massive human rights violation. The EFF, SAFEnet, and other consumer watchdogs have written a letter to Kominfo, requesting that it repeal the unjust law and its "invasive content moderation standards."
Nevertheless, it will likely take more than an open letter from a handful of human rights organizations to halt the country's power grab. Such restrictive measures can usually be prevented when other countries threaten sanctions, as has not been the case with similar legislation.
Nick Youngson's image credit: Nick Youngson