Indonesia is planning to restrict social media usage during emergency situations

Indonesia’s Communications and Information Ministry will be restricting social media access during emergency situations.

If reading that made you think ‘how?’ you’re not alone.

But this isn’t the first time Indonesia has restricted access to social media, nor will it be the last.

What the ministry announced.

Communications and Information Minister Johnny G. Plate, who just received the position over a week ago, announced that the ban that will be conducted during periods of unrest among the public.

“Don’t make trouble if you don’t want (restrictions).” he said, according to Kompas.com. “But if there’s a situation that will endanger the public, that will be the option.”

Although Johnny agreed that the restriction to social media access violated civil rights, he insisted the policy would only be temporary.

“The Constitution has to respect freedom of speech. If there’s trouble, there’ll be restrictions. But our purpose is to limit negative opinions,” he said.

Prior situations where Indonesia limited social media access.

Restricting social media access is a relatively new concept to Indonesia.

It was first imposed by former Communications Minister Rudiantara during the post-election Jakarta riots in May.

“During situations like the Jakarta riots, there is a lot of fake news, with videos and pictures circulating on social media and instant messaging,” he said in an interview with DW News.

“We have not totally blocked the means or tools for people to communicate, but we are trying to limit features that have affected the riots happening in the country.”

The first restriction lasted a total of three days, according to Medianama.

A second restriction of access quickly followed just months later in August when Papuans protested the arrest and racist treatments of Papuan students in East Java.

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The internet shutdown became even more crucial as it prevented journalists in Papua from transmitting news to remote parts of the region and residents from finding information about what was happening around them.

Internet access was restored weeks later, according to the Jakarta Post.

The dangers of censorship and restricting access.

Censorship can be dangerous for many reasons.

According to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, restricting social media usage can deprive citizens from using the internet to exercise their political rights or make it difficult for discussions of societal issues to take place, leading to further discrimination issues.

Restrictions also prevent the public from being able to perform activism to ensure government accountability due to the lack of information and education they are able to get from the internet.

In this case, Indonesia’s government may insist that restricting social media access is for the benefit of the country. But it stands to be seen if it really help with public unrest or if it’ll cause further protests to take place.



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