Indonesia needs ‘urgent’ data protection law, says minister

JAKARTA: aims to bring in a new law to protect personal data by next year as it follows in the footsteps of Southeast Asian neighbours such as Singapore and also the European Union, the country's new communications told Reuters.

The government had a “roadmap to data sovereignty” to reflect the growing importance of data and planned to establish the new law in Southeast Asia's biggest economy urgently, said Communications Minister Johnny G Plate.

“We've discussed this…and parliament has agreed in a meeting with us that it will become a priority law in 2020,” Plate said in an interview late on Friday.

The minister, who was sworn in last month, said existing rules to protect data were spread across many laws and needed to be brought together under one law.

The move comes amid wider regional efforts by Southeast Asian governments to demand action from global tech giants on content regulation and tax policy.

The stakes are high for both governments, which are counting on the digital economy to drive growth, and internet companies, which view Southeast Asia's social-media-loving population of 641 million as a key growth market.

Indonesia is a top-five market globally for US tech giants Facebook and Twitter.

Authorities have succeeded in getting social media companies Telegram and TikTok to establish content monitoring teams in Indonesia after briefly banning them over “negative content.”

Indonesia has said it will meet social media companies to discuss its plans to impose fines of up to around US$36,000 if they allow content such as pornography, violence or extremist ideology.

Plate played down the prospect of fines being applied if there was cooperation from companies.

“The main principle isn't about fines…what we want is for social media to be used properly, used to be beneficial,” he said.

Plate also defended Indonesia's move to impose temporary internet curbs to stop people sharing content online during recent periods of civil unrest in the country's easternmost area of Papua and when there were riots in Jakarta.

“Being repressive or applying censorship when things are normal…that's wrong,” said the minister.

“But when there's civil disobedience, that's not repressive. That's restoring the situation back to normal,” he said.

The imposition of internet curbs has been criticised by rights groups

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