Repressing Expression Case Study Of Blocking And Filtering Of Internet Content And Criminalization Of Internet Users In Indonesia

represingThe increasing number of internet users has resulted in the rise of cyber world crimes. To anticipate the cyber world crimes, many countries, including Indonesia, have produced various policies to control and supervise the internet users. Some policies, which may contain a threat of detention, are particularly related with internet content. When we talk about internet content, there are at least two emerging issues which are blocking and filtering of the content and the criminal charges burdened to the users posting certain content.

Indonesia definitely faces several problems on internet content. The country, for example, has mentioned the practice of blocking and filtering on internet content in some regulations but has yet to compose a thorough and complete technical know-how on the practices, including the complaint mechanism. The existing policies only regulate the state’s authority to block and filter certain content which may contain pornography, religious defamation and hate speech. Those policies, unfortunately, never give a clear context on the limitation, the mechanism, as well as the defense and complaint efforts upon those acts.

Meanwhile, when it comes to criminalization of internet users, the state says that criminal charges are necessary to protect others’ rights and reputation, as well as preventing religious defamation and incitement to hatred. The decision makers have adopted almost all materials of Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) to process cyber crimes cases, even impose heavier charges as they believe that online defamation creates wider impact. As a matter of fact, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank La Rue stressed that internet is a new and unique tool of information that it should be regulated in different way with other offline publications. What looks balance and fair treatment for offline media may not be suitable on internet. La Rue made example on how online defamation can be responded by the related individuals as soon as it is published. Criminal charges on defamation in internet, therefore, will not be necessary. 

An arbitrary usage of criminal charges for internet users is one of the hardest form of limitation for rights of expression. Not only does the action create a chilling effect, it also tends to violate other forms of human rights. The detention practice, for instance, might include torture, intimidation and other forms of punishments that go against human rights values.

This writing tries to elaborate the problems around the regulation and the practice of blocking and filtering of internet content in Indonesia, which apply on two actions: the act of blocking and filtering and the criminal charges threat for the internet users. The protection of civil liberty, which is closely related with all those matters, will also be discussed.

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