The moment Indonesia decided to block over 70,000 websites claiming that they were displaying harmful digital content, it was clear that something serious was going on. All sites labeled negative for showing or promoting any form of extremist ideology or nudity and pornography have been blocked as soon as the new Internet censorship law was instated.
According to Reuters, they did it for the sole purpose of purging the web of harmful material. The majority of people in Indonesia are Muslim, and there are numerous Islamic parties there that are pushing their agendas by spreading hate speech and hoax stories.
The only thing left for the country to do was to step up their measures of controlling online content, especially after controversial pornography laws came into action.
That’s how they came up with their censorship method named the crawling system. Basically, it searches the net content, and when it encounters any material deemed inappropriate, the system issues an alert. Since 2017, they have blocked almost 800 000 websites, mostly pornographic.
Any encrypted messaging service and social media platform that supports radical propaganda, nudity, pornography, and obscene GIFs is subject to blocking.
The Reasons for Introducing New Censorship System
Indonesia decided that all online content marked as negative must be removed upon its discovery. Therefore, they have invented a crawling system that automatically blocks websites that host such content. According to the government, any content deemed unsuitable will be automatically blocked.
The crawling system uses artificial intelligence to identify keywords while crawling websites to detect and discover inappropriate online material. Then, a special team evaluates data for verification. Upon validating a particular content as harmful, the site hosting it is subject to permanent blocking.
Topics deemed harmful are ones promoting fake news, hoaxes, drugs, frauds, terrorism, gambling, and pornography. Any website that supports online radicalism will be immediately blocked. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that VPN usage has sky-rocketed in the country.
In fact, Indonesia has been labeled as one of the rare countries in the world with the highest percentage of VPN users.
It’s understandable if you consider that it has the 4th largest population on our planet. Almost half of the population are VPN users. These users see VPN as tools for overcoming governmental restrictions, and they still refer to their online experience as only partly free.
Apparently, internet users in Indonesia don’t feel comfortable with their officials being able to block random websites when they feel like it. Fortunately, they can use VPNs to bypass censorship.
Two Ways of Viewing Internet Censorship
The Indonesian Internet crawling system has been subject to a lot of criticism. Currently, there are two opposing views within the country. One endorses the censorship while the other one is against it. This conflict continued to rage on especially after the blocking of Tumblr.
While some say that the censorship is useful as it protects the youth from devious influences and radical ideas, others state that blocking sites like Tumblr does more damage than good. Tumblr offers a lot of useful and informative content that might contribute to the growth of the community.
By blocking it, the government is sending the message that they aren’t just blocking what they see as negative content, but the idea of having free access to information and the will to differentiate right from wrong.