Indonesia urges tech platforms to sign up to new licensing rules or risk being blocked

The Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS//

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JAKARTA, July 18 (Reuters) – Indonesia on Monday urged tech companies to register under new licensing rules or risk having their platforms blocked, with data showing that many big tech firms such that Google and Meta had not yet respected the following days. Deadline July 20.

The obligation to register is part of a set of rules, first published in November 2020, which will allow authorities to order platforms to remove content deemed illegal, or which “disturbs public order”. within four hours if deemed urgent, and within 24 hours if not.

In a text message to Reuters, Communications Minister Johnny G. Plate urged companies to register before sanctions were applied. His ministry said last month that platforms could be blocked if they failed to comply.

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As of Monday, more than 5,900 domestic companies and 108 foreign companies had registered, including short-video app TikTok and music streaming company Spotify (SPOT.N), according to data from the Communications Ministry.

Other platforms such as Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O), Twitter (TWTR.N) and Meta Platforms Inc (META.O), which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, have yet to register.

Spokespersons for Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

The new licensing system applies to all domestic and foreign electronic service operators.

The government can also compel companies to reveal communications and personal data of specific users at the request of law enforcement or government agencies.

The government says the new rules were formulated to ensure internet service providers protect consumer data and that online content is used in a “positive and productive” way.

Despite the threat, some analysts doubt that Indonesian authorities will immediately block platforms operated by non-compliant companies, especially given the wide use of some of these platforms in Indonesia, including by state officials.

With a population of 270 million, young and digitally savvy, Indonesia is one of the world’s top 10 markets by number of users for a host of social media companies, including TikTok, Twitter and Facebook.

Some activists say the new content-related articles posed a threat to privacy and free speech.

“Our analysis shows that this will be the most repressive regulation of its kind in the region,” said Nenden Arum, of the digital rights group the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network. East (SAFEnet).

Minister Plate said the registration requirement was administrative and not content-based.

According to Statista, there were around 191 million social media users in Indonesia in February 2022. Only China and India have more social media users in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Reporting by Kate Lamb in Sydney and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Editing by Ed Davies and Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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