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Indonesia Set to Pass Bill Banning Online Porn

New law would criminalize both operating and viewing adult websites, and calls for extensive blocking of adult sites
Indonesia Set to Pass Bill Banning Online Porn
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Mar 26, 2008 9:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
JAKARTA — The Indonesian House of Representatives is poised to pass a bill that would criminalize viewing and distributing online pornography, imposing years in prison and hefty fines against offenders.

In addition to criminalizing adult website use and operation, the bill will institute extensive filtering and blocking of online content in Indonesia. The country’s Information and Communications Ministry plans to begin wide scale blocking of adult websites on April 1, according to the Jakarta Post.

The bill, dubbed the Electronic Information and Transactions Law, applies to more than just sexually explicit content. Under the law, any person found guilty of transmitting pornographic content, “false news,” or racial and religious hate messages via the Internet could face up to six years in prison, and fines of more than $100,000. The new law will also permit Indonesian courts to accept electronic material as evidence in cases involving Internet abuse.

Information Minister Mohammad Nuh said this week that the law was needed in order to allay the negative impact of harmful Internet content on Indonesian society.

“I think we all agree there’s no way we can save this nation by spreading pornography, violence and ethnic hostility,” Nuh said.

While the bill is expected to pass, it is not without its critics, who worry that Indonesian police might abuse the new legislation.

“I agree if the bill is aimed at protecting children from accessing adult sites,” said Zatni Arbi of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. “But I am afraid the police will see it as a chance to extort money from people receiving spam porn emails.”

Arbi said that the police could raid users before they could delete pornographic spam messages they have received, and accuse them of violating the new law. He also expressed concern that the government’s efforts to block and filter adult sites will not work.

“The draft law may raise a good point but I am worried about the implementation,” Arbi said. “Censoring is not that easy, as violators can easily find tricks to access and provide porn sites.”

Nuh said that it is not the government’s intent to criminalize Internet use through the bill, but to educate people and reduce misuse of the Internet.

“We expect to raise people’s awareness of the need to minimize Internet abuse,” Nuh said. “We hope people use the software we have provided.”

The law, various versions of which have been debated by the House of Representatives since 2005, has had several of its most controversial provisions eliminated. A previous iteration of the bill included a stipulation that would have criminalized kissing in public.

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