Personal Data Protection in the Digital Age: Current Policies and Future Challenges for Indonesia  

ELSAM, Jakarta – ELSAM invited representatives of diplomatic community and regional organizations in Indonesia to discuss data protection policies and challenges in Indonesia. The meeting was held on Friday, 13 December 2019 at JS Luwansa Hotel, Jakarta. Furthermore, the meeting was moderated by Alia Yofira (Researcher, ELSAM) and attended by several speakers, inter alia, Farah Puteri Nahlia (Member of Commission I, the House of Representatives), Yuliana Wahyuningtyas (Faculty of Law, UNIKA Atma Jaya Jakarta), and Wahyudi Djafar (Deputy Director of Research, ELSAM).

The meeting aims to provide the diplomatic community in Indonesia with an insight on the data protection policies and challenges in Indonesia as well as to facilitate an exchange of perspectives between the Indonesian Government and the diplomatic community in Indonesia regarding the importance of having comprehensive data protection regulations for a country’s digital economy.

In Indonesia, the number of mobile users currently reaches 355.5 million people or equivalent to 133% of the population, with 150 million people connected to the internet with a percentage of internet penetration of 56%. On top of that, Indonesia ranks fourth at the global level with 13% internet growth every year with additional internet users reaching 17.3 million people. Google, Temasek and Bain & Company (2019) also estimated that Indonesia’s internet economy has more than quadrupled in size since 2015 at an average growth rate of 49% a year.

As the largest and fastest-growing Internet economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s internet economy is poised to grow to $130 billion by 2025. As the fourth largest country in the world with 262.2 million inhabitants, Indonesia is considered as the most potential ‘ASEAN Tiger’ in terms of digital economic growth.

Responding to this, in his remarks in commemoration of the 74th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence, President Joko Widodo stated the need for regulations related to the development of the use of technology to support the 4th industrial revolution. He also underlined the urgency for personal data protection regulations in the midst of the high rate of internet growth in Indonesia.

However, until today, the high growth of Indonesia’s digital economy has not been accompanied by comprehensive personal data protection regulations. This puts Indonesia together with 40 other countries with pending data protection bill or initiative. As of November 2019, 130 countries and independently governed jurisdictions and territories around the world have now adopted comprehensive data protection/privacy laws to protect personal data held by private and public bodies (David Banisar, 2019).

At the ASEAN level, the adoption of ASEAN Framework on Personal Data Protection and Digital Data Governance in 2016 and 2018 respectively, marks the ASEAN’s commitment to strengthen personal data protection at ASEAN level. While data protection policies at the ASEAN level can be considered relatively new, several ASEAN member countries like Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Lao, Thailand already have existing data protection laws.

As for Indonesia, newly appointed Indonesian ICT Minister, Johnny G. Plate announced that the PDP Bill will be finalized in December 2019 and to be discussed together with the House of Representatives on 2020. The Indonesian Data Protection Bill is included in the list of National Legislation Priorities (Prolegnas) 2020 and likely to be passed on 2020.

Farah Nahlia, Member of Commission I, the House of Representatives,  also expressed similar commitment to prioritize the enactment of the Bill. “For the data protection bill, we are planning to make it happen by October 2020.” Farah stated.

Writer: Alia Yofira Karunian