Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Jakarta, Jan 17, 2017 (Antara) - The Communication and Informatics Ministry has been closely monitoring radical websites in Indonesia and has even blocked several of them to prevent the spread of radical ideology.  
   On December 30, 2016, the ministry had blocked 11 websites: voa-islam.com, nahimunkar.com, kiblat.net, bisyarah.com, dakwahtangerang.com, islampos.com, suaranews.com, izzamedia.com, gensyiah.com, muqawamah.com, and abuzubair.net.
        The websites were blocked for allegedly disseminating negative news.
        After the websites were blocked, their operators had met Samuel A. Pangerapan, the director general of Application and Informatics of the ministry, on January 4, 2017.
        Four of them urged the ministry to unblock their websites, while one expressed his objection to the act.
        The operator of voa-Islam.com was among those present at the meeting. The ministry explained the reasons behind the blocking suggested by a certain mass organization and the Police's counterterrorism squad Densus 88 and urged the operators to meet some requirements and conditions if they wanted their websites to be unblocked.
        The ministry has requested the operator of voa-Islam.com to delete four news stories deemed inappropriate including that on Densus 88, non-active Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama alias Ahok, and Dutch Christians who had colonized Indonesia in the past, according to information on the voa-Islam.com website unblocked on January 10.

        "There are five websites that are unblocked," Pangarepan told Republika.co.id, on Jan 9. The five are Islampos.com, Voa-islam.com, Suaranews.com, Nahimunkar.com, and Kiblat.net.
        At the meeting, Chairman of the Press Council Yosep Stanley Adi Prasetyo also urged the blocked websites to register with the Council and send their reporters to undergo journalistic training and journalist competence tests.
        Furthermore, the ministry is set to block more news portals that are not in line with the existing Press Law, according to Pangarepan.
        "There will be a joint move along with the Press Council to block every website claiming to be a news portal but not having a company name, structure, legal status, and address, as demanded by the Press Law," he stated.
        The measure is necessary to prevent hoax information or news that does not follow the journalistic code of ethics, he added.
        The ministry will form a team to identify websites containing negative content. There are around 40 thousand such websites, according to data provided by the Press Council.
        News portals should apply for licenses and meet the necessary criteria on the similar lines as other media companies, he remarked.
        Within two months, the ministry and Press Council will introduce the prerequisites for being recognized as a news portal.
        In fact, the government has blocked some 800,000 websites since December last year. Nearly 90 percent of them contained pornographic material, gambling applications, and some others were spreading hoax information, Pangerapan was quoted as saying recently by tempo.co.
        Of the total, 766,633 websites were related to pornography and 85 related to radicalism.
        A response against the move to block Islam-related websites came from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which has expressed regret.
        "The blocking of Islamic sites has drawn reactions from some Muslims, as this is very sensitive. This measure has its own pros and cons, although it has been carried out under the pretext of countering radicalism and terrorism," Deputy Chairman of MUI Zainut Tauhid Saadi stated recently.
        The Communication and Informatics Ministry has not tendered any explanation regarding the meaning and criteria of radicalism, he noted.
        "We view the unilateral blocking of those websites as a regress in the promotion of democracy in Indonesia. Any website blocking should be conducted through a legal process because our country is based on laws," he remarked.
        Website blocking should not solely be conducted through the use of power. Blocking without legal basis constitutes a violation of human rights, particularly with regard to freedom of expression and speech, which is clearly protected by the Constitution.
        The blocking of websites has also offended several Muslims, as not all Islamic websites promote radicalism that leads to terrorism, he added.
        "Why are websites of other religions, which are also radical, provocative, and anti-NKRI (the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia), allowed and not blocked? Is it only an Islamic site that contains radical content," he pointed out.
        The MUI has urged the ministry to evaluate its policy and to offer an explanation before blocking any website, particularly those related to religion.
        By adopting this approach, the ministry will be in a better position to present its argument, which is clear and accountable legally, he stated.
        The move to block alleged radical websites had also been made in 2015. Tens of websites allegedly promoting radical content had been blocked by the ministry at the request of the Counterterrorism Agency, but several of them had later been restored.
        In April 2015, the government had formed the Forum for Handling of Websites with Negative Contents to identify websites to be blocked.
        The forum comprises four panels, respectively Panel I on pornography, violence against children, and internet security; Panel II on terrorism, race, ethnicity, religion, and hatred; Panel III on illegal investigation, fraud, gambling, drugs, food, and narcotics; and Panel IV on intellectual property rights.

(T.F001/A/BESSR/Bustanuddin) 17-01-2017

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