Indonesia: Global media organisations condemn government internet regulation

Global media organisations sent a joint letter to Indonesia’s minister of Communication and Information Technology urging him to repeal Ministerial Regulation 5/2020 (MR5) that enables companies to monitor content. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) urge the government to repeal the MR5 regulation.

Joko Widodo at ASEAN Conference. Credit: SIGID KURNIAWAN / POOL / AFP

The MR5 regulation governs all Private Electronic Systems Operators (PESOs) requiring companies to not contain or facilitate the distribution of prohibited content and enabling government monitoring of content. MR5 was issued on December 2, 2020 after little consultation, with the regulation set to take effect in May 2021. On May 24, the Indonesia Ministry of Communication and Information Technology announced a six-month postponement for enforcing the regulation.

Under the regulation, PESOs are required to register with the government for their content to be publicly accessible. Currently, PESOs required to register include Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but the regulation has the potential to apply to online media, citizen journalists, and organisational websites. The regulation requires companies to provide access to information to ministries, institutions, and law enforcement without independent oversight.

The joint letter signed by AJI calls for the Indonesian government to repeal MR5 as it “is deeply problematic, granting government authorities overly broad powers to regulate online content, access user data, and penalize companies that fail to comply”. The letter also listed standards, legal theories or principles that MR5 fails to uphold including Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The AIJ said: AJI is concerned about this issue and has joined a large coalition (include Article19) to urge the Minister of Communications and Information Technology to revoke this regulation. The team's study results show that MR5 seriously threatens freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Indonesia.”

The IFJ said: “The MR5 regulation seeks to undermine internet freedom in Indonesia by allowing government authorities to have broad powers to gather information without judicial oversite. The IFJ urges the Indonesian government to repeal this regulation and reform existing legislation to support free speech and expression.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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