With fourth largest population in the world 41% people use VPN in Indonesia to access restricted information. Although Indonesian government holds a progressive approach towards use of internet in economic development it is very cautious over information filtering and blocking of offensive content. In this regard cyber laws are great savior.
Cyber laws help in preventing information leakage and providing safe transactions. It strictly blocks anti-Islamic and pornographic content. To achieve this objective, it has set up an extensive regulatory and legal framework and linked up with ISPs and cafes. VPN is a safeguard in this matter.
Why I need a VPN in Indonesia?
VPN is the software which will assign you a different virtual IP address which will protect your identity. It works by making a layer of protection by encrypting your data and assigning you an IP address of different geographical region.
Thus, users have switched to VPN to overcome the hurdles listed below:
Secure Browsing: It has blocked many websites in the past over the issue of inappropriate content. In April 2008 YouTube was blocked in Indonesia for its inappropriate content and disapproval of government rules. Another incident came when Facebook was blocked for a brief period of time for showing some anti-religious content.
Vimeo, which is a video sharing website is one of them blocked in 2014. Netflix is also banned in Indonesia for showing adult content and non-violence as well as not following the rules of its business permit. Still the laws are not defined clearly leaving many loopholes. A site showing content of following categories are strictly blocked in Indonesia: violence, porn, gamble, exposure of private information, disregard of a person on grounds of disability and anything which incites hatred. In order to securely browser these websites in Indonesia, one needs to use a VPN.
Avoid censorship:A study has revealed that filtering in Indonesia is unsystematic and unstructured indicated by different filtering of various ISPs. Internet filtering in Indonesia seems to be ‘substantial’ in the social arena, whereas ‘selective’ in the political and internet tools arenas. The government has developed approach of blocking inappropriate matter.
It simply means block it if you find anything suspicious i.e. censoring negative content. The government can block illegal and pornographic content in this regard.
The regulation council has banned many topics in this regard such as child pornography, fraud, hate speech, gambling, illegal investments, intellectual property rights, and fake drugs. Indonesians are of the view that it prohibits their right of freedom of speech. In March 2008, a law was passed to increase control of Ministry of communications and information technology over information filtering and blocking. VPN has the ability to avoid the censorship imposed by the government.
- Unblock geographically restricted content:One of the drawback is that Indonesian Government also restricts information shared by human rights organization and making its citizens unaware of outside world. However, Indonesian government claims that it is protecting its nation form socially inappropriate content but the other side of the coin is that it is suppressing activists and bloggers who are fighting against these rigid political system and policies.
So to overcome this problem and access geographically restricted content, it has led many users to switch to VPN.
So, these are some of the reasons why users switch to VPNs to bypass censored content and watch restricted information freely.
Is it secure to connect to internet in Indonesia?
Indonesian government is striving hard to promote safe and healthy use of the internet. A study has revealed that Indonesia is at high risk of cyber-attacks and cyber security is need of the hour. The aim of these cyber-attacks is to steal confidential information available through social connectivity platforms. Phishing and sniffing attacks are most common among them. The government consultancies and law enforcers block sites with inappropriate content with the help of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This also includes unblocking of a site if the site is found to be non-guilty.
A study has revealed that a total of 763,126 sites are prohibited completely for showing adult content. These also includes sites showing racial content or hatred or negative exposure of any kind. As per the content shown by a website, ISPs conduct a timely update of all the sites and then categorize them as Blacklisted or Whitelisted to be accessed in Indonesia.
The mobile users in Indonesia have to get their mobile numbers registered with the Indonesian government. These companies share data when needed by the law enforcers. Telecom companies have to abide by the rules and create local data centers to access user’s information. Overall there are 7 executive regulations and 10 laws which allows the Indonesian government and law enforcement agencies the right to conduct surveillance.
The information like debit card and credit card details or online banking should be safeguarded extensively. As most firms don’t match these safety standards and depend only on anti-viruses and firewalls they risk themselves these social engineering attacks. One such attack is known as Phishing in which the attacker tries to steal personal information such as login credentials or bank account details from the user by pretending to be someone close to the user via emails, social media platforms and IMs.
Frequent victims of these attacks are common people with timid technical knowledge. Hackers are way advanced in their approach and test their malwares and viruses which can break through the updated anti-viruses. As the condition is very vulnerable so internet usage in Indonesia is not easy. To safeguard public interests and keep the information secured, VPNs have come to our rescues.
Internet Censorship in Indonesia
The holistic growth of a country can be measured in terms of its freedom to use internet. How free a country’s people are in using its social connectivity can be easily related to the prevalent cyber laws in that country. Indonesia holds the view to keep its cyber security in check by imposing very strict cyber laws. Many countries have partial freedom or full freedom of internet usage, India being one of them.
Internet censorship of a country can be defined as what the government allows its users to see on internet or in simple terms only that information is available online which passes the cyber barriers placed by the law enforcers. Though most countries set their own standards of censorship and Indonesia is no different from many of its counterparts. It also has very strict cyber laws preventing any negative or inappropriate content. Any pornographic sites, hatred spreading sites and anti-Islamic views are strictly banned in Indonesia.
It is observed that in Indonesia filtering of information is substantial in social sector but it is very selective in political arenas. It was also stated that no filtering was done in conflicting issues. All this led to the conclusion that unsystematic and inconsistent filtering of information in Indonesia is due to differences in filtering levels of Internet Service Providers(ISPs). With a score of 42, Indonesia was termed as “partly free” in 2015 in terms of internet censorship.
The censored content can be widely categorized in different sections such as censoring of adult or pornographic content, blocking of social networking sites and keeping a check over what bloggers are writing. Let us briefly discuss some of them:
- Pornographic content: Many sites showing adult content which is inappropriate to be seen by the masses comes under government scrutiny and completely banned by the law agencies. One example is Vimeo; a video site blocked by the government in 2014. Also, YouTube has faced the extreme measures in 2008.
- Social Networking Censorship: In today’s times social connectivity is achieved through social networking sites. These sites not only promote social platform for interaction but also create awareness of social and worldwide issues. Though it’s a boon to its users when all its benefits are taken into account but what if you awake and find it is banned in your country. YouTube face same extremism in April 2008. Facebook also face the issue of banning for showing anti-Islamic content.
- Blogging: Netflix was banned in this regard. Google related sites such as Reddit and Imgur are censored in Indonesia facing public outcry but to no avail.
Blocked websites in Indonesia
The Indonesian government strictly observes what should be shown and what should be hided from its masses. Though the Indonesian government promotes holistic development of its people by giving internet freedom but it also withholds certain social platforms which it considers inappropriate for masses. For that it has made very strong cyber laws and strictly enforces them. The main social sites which are blocked in Indonesia include pornographic content, anti-Islamic content, religious issues, racial issues and anything which shows their country in bad picture.
Indonesian government has signed a harsh Anti-Pornographic law in 2008 covering pornographic content in wide sense. Everything from sound to images and writings to gestures which promotes sexual content comes under this law and scrutinized badly. Though this law is present but it is enforced by Telkom, a telecommunication regulatory authority in Indonesia. Everyday thousands of websites are blocked in Indonesia by Telkom especially social networking platforms. Some of them are listed below:
As soon as Netflix was launched in Indonesia it disappeared overnight. Within weeks it was decided by Telkom that all of its services will be blocked which also included restricting its subsidiaries wholly. Indonesian government wanted that Netflix should comply with Indonesian cyber laws but Telkom wanted to regulate it instead of completely blocking it. Though the launch of Netflix was overrated but it has to face the government scrutiny as it was popular for showing nudity, drug abuse and violence through its site.
In May 2014, Telkom announced that it would be blocking Vimeo as it was not adhering to Indonesian government’s anti-pornographic laws. At that time government banned all those social platforms which showed nudity of any kind and Vimeo was one of them. As it was popular video sharing site it was easily halted for using inappropriate adult content on its site. But there was a drawback in this ban. Instead of completely restricting it government could have applied certain filters for adult content and nudity. Before raising the ban in November 2014 this action faced anger issues from masses who used it for sharing videos and social communication.
Reddit is a site famous for discussion and voting on a number of issues by its internet users. It was also blocked at the time when Vimeo faced the halt. This platform has many heated corners showing adult content and heated religious and political issues. As it does not keep its content on check it is completely banned in Indonesia.
Imgur never gained popularity in Indonesia though it is one of the most popular websites for sharing images worldwide. Indonesian government considers these images as immoral and against their harsh cyber laws. It was also found to be showing adult content. It was also blocked in May 2014 along with the above mentioned sites.
YouTube was controversially blocked in 2008 as it was hurting Islamic sentiments by wrongly depicting their Prophet Mohammed. But the ban was lifted immediately following public outrage.