Twitter could be banned in Indonesia if failing to comply with new law

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Twitter could be blocked in Indonesia if failing to comply with new law coming into force on July 20. 

This mean that citizens may need to turn to the best VPN services to be able to keep accessing the platform. 

Known as Ministerial Regulation 5 (MR5), the new law will require online services like social media platforms, messaging apps and search engine providers to register with the local communication ministry (KOMINFO). These will then be required to hand over customers’ data on request, as well as complying with content moderation orders.

Around 108 foreign companies have already registered. These include Google, Meta – which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – video app TikTok and music streaming operator Spotify. 

What does the new law mean for Indonesian citizens?

As Reuters reported (opens in new tab), the government claims that Regulation 5 will be used to ensure providers protect customers’ data, while promoting positive and productive content online. 

According to the new directives, providers will have to remove what is described as “prohibited content” within 24 hours for not risking having their platform blocked. This includes anything that goes against the law, causes public unease, or disrupts public order. 

Human rights advocates are raising concerns about the new regulation, claiming that its vague definitions and narrow compliance time frames could lead to the curb of people’s internet freedom. 

What’s more, as Michael Caster from free speech campaigning group ARTICLE 19 wrote on The Diplomat (opens in new tab): “Requiring digital actors to prevent content that ‘informs others how to access or provide access’ to otherwise prohibited content may also lead to a ban on access to circumvention tools, like VPNs.”

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With over 191 million social media users across the country – Indonesia is actually the third nation with most Facebook users (opens in new tab) around the world – the new regulation could have a huge impact on citizens.  

And, while Minister Plate assures that the registration requirement is just an administrative practice, worries that the law will fuel a stringent censorship and limit people’s freedom of speech still remain. 

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chiara.castro@futurenet.com (Chiara Castro)

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