Digital Literacy for Democratic Content Governance

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ELSAM, Yogyakarta – Digital literacy is an absolute need in responding the current challenge of internet usage. It is not only the ability to use the internet technology, but also the ability to analyze, evaluate, and use the information obtained from the internet. These abilities are crucial in the middle of the absence of related law on internet governance particularly in Indonesia. The final goal is nothing but to create a dynamic internet ecosystem which respects human rights.

The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) visited Yogyakarta to search and extract the data regarding the research themed “Diagnostic Study on Internet Content Governance in Indonesia” on 20 – 24 August 2017. This research involved some interviewees from various sectors, such as broadcasting, filming, press, as well as internet content producer and distributor. Besides interviews, the data extraction was also conducted through focus group discussion by inviting numbers of academia who utilize the internet as their resource.

This research brings three issues related to the scope of the content, mechanism and content governance including the blocking, as well as the role and responsibilities of the intermediaries.

Indonesian Government’s wish to develop the appropriate internet governance is to limit the negative content. Some of the interviewees mentioned that the content of spreading terrorism and hate speech are considered negative contents. However, the ‘negative’ interpretation is still various because there is no guideline or consensus that has been collectively agreed by multi stakeholders of its definition. At the end, government has conducted the blocking practice which violates the freedom of expression.

“There are some international consensuses that sort out which contents that could be blocked. However, the right for having the freedom of opinion and expression to study the negative content is also needed by the academia for their research material which will aim at the society literacy so that it could be developed more positively”, explained Borang Yerry Niko, the editor of Engage Media.

The essence of the content restriction is no other than to protect the vulnerable group, as mentioned by Dyna Herlina from Rumah Cinema. Dyna Herline is a content producer from filming sector who is also intense in terms of literacy. “We have to acknowledge the importance of protection toward the vulnerable group such as children, elderly, and women. They do not have the full capacity to do the verification of the information.” The protection that focuses on the mentioned vulnerable group is the base of the restricted content existence.

In the focus group discussion, it was mentioned that co-regulation and self-regulation are the mechanism model that protects the freedom of opinion and expression the best. This is due to the support from the convergence system of co-regulation and neutrality network of self-regulation. However, in order to support these two models, there is a need of literacy for the society to actively participate in the formation of internet governance which creates a democratic ecosystem.

“We need to improve the reading habit, develop the ability to think analytically, strengthen everyone’s education on this matter by adding it in the school curriculum. By doing so, everyone would have the ability to filter the information received before ‘share’ it”, said Budi Irawanto as communication expert from University of Gajah Mada.

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