Internet in New Media Age: Designing Internet Content Governance Landscape Policy in Indonesia

ELSAM, Jakarta – Some of the Government’s decisions in controlling internet content apparently are counterproductive with the character of internet as a medium of expression and new ways of communication. The practice of blocking and filtering, indeed, do not minimize the existence of negative contents yet they become a threat for freedom of opinion and expression in the virtual world. The negative contents such as child pornography, hate speech, or the site that currently trigger public anger such as Saracen or the site of which it could be considered as a form of human trafficking practice, are widely spread in Indonesia cyber world nowadays. This situation needs a serious response particularly because Indonesia has not found the right governance for internet content.

In responding to the need of creating the right policy landscape, The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) conducted a diagnostic study in order to acknowledge what aspects could emerge in the ecosystem of internet content governance. This research aims at three matters which are the scope of internet content, the intermediaries’ roles, and the obstacles in internet content governance. As part of the data collection method, ELSAM held the focus group discussion, “FGD on Internet Content Governance Policy Landscape in Indonesia” on 20 September 2017, in Jakarta. This discussion invited numbers of state institutions and civil society such as Institute of Film Censorship, The Ministry of Communication and Information, The Press Council, Central Information Commission, Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, Legal Aid Institute for Press, Indonesia Cyber Security Forum, Alliance of Independent Journalist, Indonesia Internet Service Provider Association, and National Commission on Violence against Women.

The Director of Legal and Cooperation Division of Directorate General of Application the Ministry of Communication and Information, Antonius Malau, mentioned that the internet content definition is indeed not available yet in the Indonesian legislation.

“However, Information and Electronic Transaction Law (UU ITE) acknowledges the term electronic information of which its definition is more or less similar to the definition of internet content”, said Anton.

The Commission of Press Council, Agus Sudibyo, emphasized that we need to initially identify whether internet is a kind of system or it is simply a living world (lebenswelt), which means it is a horizon of thoughts where everyone could exchange ideas in personal spaces.

“For me, internet creates a system, especially economic system of which the actors behind it would take profit from various model of communications (interpersonal, groups, public, mass) and communication scope (private and public),” according to Sudibyo.

Sudibyo stated that the communication model which is moderated in the hybrid room called internet, has produced what so called new media of which it calculates the function and social benefit from the aspects of economic-politic, profit or benefit. Therefore, internet has to be regulated in accordance with the roles and responsibilities of the involved actors.

“We have to consider social media as a dualistic institution. It is a social as well as an economic institution, thus it should have corporate responsibility just like the conventional companies,” explained Sudibyo in emphasizing the responsibility of internet and app service provider in the spreading of internet content.

This hybrid character of internet, according to R. Kristiawan, needs to be considered in making the regulation. “Internet regulation has to be created hybrid, not single regulation as in press, film, electronic information, which has its own regulation.”

Digital literacy aspect is also a crucial point in regulating the internet content. Mariana Amiruddin, from the Women’s National Commission, highlighted the state regulations which always have problems, particularly the tendency of the government in restricting women’s space by censoring women’s body.”

“The government, does it have a good capacity of digital literacy to do the censorship on internet content?”

She also added that government should have the authority in controlling the media companies which based on internet because the businessmen are those who profit the most from the use of internet nowadays.

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