The Indonesian government tightens its grip on the Internet as it blocked 800,000 websites in 2016.
According to Communications and Information Ministry Information Application Director General Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan, most of these websites deal with pornography, gambling, radicalism and hoaxes.
The Trust Positive database, which aims to provide a “safe and healthy Internet access based on reliable and sound data,” showed that more than 760,000 blocked websites are porn. These are in addition to the banning of popular websites, such as Reddit, Imgur and Vimeo in 2014 due to their alleged nudity content.
The country has already passed a tough anti-pornography law in 2008 after a decade of intense debate. Penalties for violations can include ten years of imprisonment and a stiff fine of no more than $500,000.
Online porn is followed by gambling applications, of which 2,120 have been shut down. As a predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia generally prohibits gambling. The government has also committed to increase its efforts against online gambling as early as 2012. Currently, free lottery is allowed provided it’s been issued a license.
About 85 blocked websites were considered to be ‘radical.’ In January 2016 alone, 11 of such sites were taken down following a deadly attack in Jakarta by ISIS militants. At least seven people were dead, and thirty people were injured due to bomb and gun blasts in the commercial center.
Other websites closed were those that featured hoaxes or fake news, which the police have recently called a security threat, along with terrorism. Earlier, Pangerapan has issued a stern warning against suspicious news portals, or those without a legal identity, as they violate the Press Law. He also announced his plan to set up a cyber agency that will be responsible for filtering reliable and fake news.
These bans are not without criticisms with democracy advocates claiming it curtails freedom of expression. Pangerapan, however, believes such actions are necessary and within legal bounds.