Protection of Right to Privacy: Hard Challenges, Developing Partnership Between All Stakeholders

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Indonesia experience serious problems in protecting citizen’s privacy rights. Why? Wahyudi Djafar─ELSAM’s Researcher, during the Democracy Digital Forum of Indonesia which was initiated by a number of Civil Society Organizations Activists and active cybercitizens on mid-December 2014─said that this situation caused by at least one of these three following aspects: (i) serious regulation problem; (ii) threat escalation; and (iii) lack of public awareness of the necessity to protect privacy.

In the regulatory context, Indonesia is facing two big problems. On the one hand there are several overlapping regulations, but on the other hand there is an absence of the rule of law. This overlapping occurred due to excessive regulations which expand the power of the state apparatus, particularly intelligence agents and people in law enforcement to loop in citizen’s private lives. The form of invasion are surveillance (pemindaian) and communications interception, on behalf of law enforcement and national security. The problem is that the procedure to carry out such actions set in various ways, without a particular rule, which guarantees legal certainty to its practice, in order to protect citizen’s privacy rights.

Meanwhile, an absence of the rule of law occurs commonly especially in the absence of regulation on protection of personal data of citizens. Although it does exist in several Acts, such as Information and Electronic Transaction Act, but the formula seems very limited and less applicable. Additionally, regarding to practices for surveillance and personal data protection, both of it still haven’t provided complaint and recovery mechanism for citizens’ privacy rights who have been violated by those who are employed to protect them.

Beyond the issue of regulation, in the latest development there is an increased threat for citizens’ private lives. This threat influenced by a rapid increase in internet population in the past three years, as well as invasion of privacy. This nuisance emerged as an impact of surveillance actions which conducted by state institutions and private companies. The actions contain severely limited personal or mass surveillance. At the same time, private companies store the personal data of their customers in order to expand their market and increase profit margins.

As in citizens in other parts of the world, Indonesian citizens also confronted by threats as explained above. In addition to practices for surveillance conducted by state apparatus, this threat also comes from other countries, just like Australian intelligence agents did with Indonesian officials in 2012. Data and e-KTP (electronic ID card) project for managing implementation of single national identification number, also spawn a new threat, especially related to personal data storage and usage which have been recorded. Broad market with a large number of population of Indonesia, also created vulnerability in collection of customers’ personal data by private companies for their business interest.

The current conditions aggravated by poor public awareness in protecting privacy, including personal data. The concept of privacy itself is considered as Western values which induced and transformed into Indonesian life style. As a result, they commit irresponsible publication of personal data, especially on social media. They ignore terms of services together with the Privacy Policy, whereas there is no free service, users have to pay dearly by submitting their personal data. In the general case, Indonesian citizens haven’t considered data as a property which should be protected yet, so that they can easily hand over their personal data.

In this situation, it takes commitment and partnership between all stakeholders to boost both reinforcement right to privacy protection and enhancement of a Privacy-Awareness. This commitment and collaboration are important to influence key policy makers, to create new policies or harmonize existing policies, for protecting citizens’ privacy. This policy will become important part of social architecture to change society’s behavior by regulating legal instrument, as well as intensifying public campaign against this issue. []