This blog post is based on key highlights from the South and Southeast Asia Digital Rights School, held last April 2022 under the Greater Internet Freedom program. Read the rest of the posts here.
A newly-legislated Personal Data Protection Law 2022 (UU PDP) and Sexual Violence Crimes Law seem promising for the future of digital rights in Indonesia. However, pervasive problems in addressing online hate speech and online sexual violence, among others, remain a challenge for the country.
During the South and Southeast Asia Digital Rights School and Gender and Digital Rights Fellowship hosted by EngageMedia under the Greater Internet Freedom project, the following issues and related concerns stood out as key highlights.
Online Freedom of Expression: Hacking, litigation await government critics. The government has continued to use legislation to criminalise online dissent. In the first quarter of 2023, three separate lawsuits have been filed against citizens: one involving a minor, and another involving two human rights activists against Indonesian political magnate Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. The Information and Transactions using Electronics Devices law (UU ITE) is the law most often used to prosecute these crimes.
Online Privacy: Insufficient safeguards in Privacy Law. The newly-legislated Personal Data Protection Law 2022 (UU PDP) is intended to protect citizens’ data hosted on public sites and servers. However, the law still has some drawbacks, including the leniency it provides the government through lighter administrative sanctions for data breach and data leak cases compared to private counterparts. Government sites and servers are deemed vulnerable to hacking and leaks; in 2023, there were 35 cases of data breaches in local databases and online services, with the most notable being the breach and temporary shutdown of Bank Syariah Indonesia, the country’s government-affiliated sharia bank. There have also been reports regarding the usage of the spyware Pegasus in Indonesia since 2018.
Digital Inclusion and Connectivity: Ambitious inclusion programs tainted with corruption. The government is working to meet the demand for equal connectivity in the unique archipelagic region by launching the SATRIA-1 satellite and procuring Base Transceiver Station (BTS) 4G. While the former seems to be heading towards a positive development, the latter is currently in hot water with a corruption case amounting to IDR 8 trillion, impacting the quality and quantity of the tools provided to support 4G internet access across the country.
Online Gender-Based Violence: Sexual violence online is classified as a crime. With the legislation of the Sexual Violence Crimes Law, some forms of online sexual violence are finally acknowledged as crimes. However, the law is currently difficult to execute due to a lack of derivative regulation pertaining to the mechanism and tools for the disposal of sensitive electronic evidence. At least 1,500 cases were reported in 2022 to various legal institutions in Indonesia, including 287 cases involving minors. Revenge porn using deepfake and AI technology is also commercialised illegally, and the latest discovery shows thousands of clients joining a Telegram group and paying for such services.
Online Disinformation and Hate Speech: Buzzers muddle discourse across online platforms. Cyber troops and strategic bots are on the rise at the height of the Indonesia elections. Such accounts are prone to distributing disinformation and targeted insults, specifically those that are religiously motivated. Hardline extremists are also starting to resort to using social media to spread their ideologies, which often involve discrimination. Using the anonymity that social media offers, the hardline ideology is difficult to combat due to a lack of digital literacy from users and difficulty in identifying perpetrators and the existing digital network, and some political actors even utilise this phenomenon for election-related purposes.