Amendment of Electronic Information and Transaction Law: a priority for the new parliament and government
Tomorrow, on 1 October 2014, members of the 2014-2019 People’s Representative Council (Parliament of Indonesia) will be officiated. There are many new faces in the council, to whom we rest our hope, in the continuing chaos of transactional politics. One of the more pressing issues that need immediate attention is an amendment to Law No 11 of 2008 on Electronic Information and Transaction (UU ITE).
Why does an amendment of UU ITE need to be given priority? There are a number of reasons, starting from the fact of the rapid growth of Internet technology use, which demands adjustments in it regulation. Besides, a new development on the obligation to integrate the principles of protecting human rights in all policies related to the Internet must also be considered. The Human Rights Council of the United Nations asserts that protection of rights off line must also be awarded them while on line. This protection is especially relevant in the case of the right of free expression, which applies without regard to the media selected for the expression.
In present day Indonesia, a number of issues and challenges still remain, especially regarding protection of the freedom of expression on the Internet. The most prominent issue is the increasing use of the criminal libel and defamation article (Art. 27(3) UU ITE) to criminalise Internet users. Data collected by SAFENet show that at least 60 persons are facing criminal charges due to their activities on the Internet, especially in the social media. For powerful parties, the article on criminal libel and defamation in UU ITE is often utilised as a tool to exact revenge by criminalising powerless parties, due to their postings on the Internet. Certainly this is a distressing situation, as this will result in a chilling effect, which negatively affects freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression.
Another challenge related to freedom of expression on the Internet is the lack of clarity in the regulation of Internet content; in which various Web sites remain arbitrarily blocked. This is due to lack of implementing regulations. The government’s step of releasing Minister of Communications and Information Regulation No. 19 of 2014 on the Handling of Negative Internet Content is a misstep, because limitation to rights, especially rights for information and freedom of expression, should be regulated in the form a legislation. The regulation also fails to create a transparent and accountable mechanism of Internet content blocking.
Based on those points, we urge the newly elected government and parliament to give attention to the following:
- Ensure the agenda of amending Law No. 11 of 2008 on Electronic Information and Transaction as a priority in the 2014-2019 National Legislation Program, and put it in the 2015 agenda.
- Ensure the integration of the principles of human rights protection, especially the guarantee of the rights of freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and freedom of obtaining information, in all policies related to the use of Internet technology.
- Revoke the criminalisation of defamation and libel in Indonesia
- Remove the duplication of criminalisation (dissemination of hate, vice, etc.) from legislation regulating the use of Internet technology, as they have been regulated in the Criminal Code.
- Accommodate in full the regulation of Internet content in legislation, by considering all principles of limitation of human rights, so as to prevent arbitrary revocation of rights.
This is a press statement of the following signatories, to be disseminated.
Jakarta, 30 September 2014
Koalisi Internet Tanpa Ancaman (KITA)
ELSAM, ICT Watch, ICJR, LBH Pers, SAFENet, ID-Config,
AJI Indonesia, IDOLA, MAPPI FH UI, LBH Jakarta, KPJKB Makassar,
LBH Pers Padang, LBH Bandung, AJI Yogyakarta,
AJI Surabaya, Sloka Institute Denpasar