Judicial Review on Internet Censorship en Route

Less than a month after the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (Menkominfo) issued a policy on internet censorship, civil society groups are already planning to file a judicial review against the policy.

Included in the Menkominfo Regulation No. 19 of 2014 on Controlling Internet Websites Containing Negative Content (Regulation), is a series of provisions on censorship over content and material on the internet that may be classified as “negative content”.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), one of the civil society groups that planns to review the Regulation, said that the policy contradicts fundamental rules governing the hierach of laws and regulations and could potentially lead to abuse of power by Menkominfo.

“We will file the judicial review petition with the Supreme Court in regard to the Ministerial Regulation,” confirmed Anggara, Chairman of ICJR’s Executive Board, in Jakarta on Monday.

Mr. Anggara explained that the Regulation limits the basic rights of the public to access information under the authority of Menkominfo to block access to certain websites. Such limitations must be provided for under a law instead of a ministerial regulation.

“Any measure to limit basic rights of the public must be regulated by a law, as mandated by Article 28J (2), of the 1945 Constitution,” explained Mr. Anggara.

Another crucial aspect is the potentially broad coverage of “negative content” under the Regulation which refers to pornographic material and illegal activities. This definition, according to Mr. Anggara, may lead to infringement of human rights by the state and abuse of power by authorities.

The Regulation grants what is seen as excessive and uncontrolled authority to the Minister to play multiple roles as a complainant, investigator, prosecutor, standard maker, and also as a judge and executor in blocking and filtering websites.

“The Minister has a wide and uncontrolled role under the Ministerial Regulation, and surprisingly takes the authority of the courts,” added Mr. Anggara.

Similarly, member of Commission I at the House of Representative, Helmy Fauzi, argued that the authority granted by the Regulation is overly susceptible to be abused by Menkominfo. The unclear definition of “negative content” is basically giving a blank check to the government to limit the rights of society in the cyber community.

Mr. Fauzi also highlighted the ongoing website-blocking measures by Menkominfo, especially for pornographic websites. He contends that the blocking actions have been performed without the required transparency as the House of Representative was never invited by Menkominfo to draft any regulation on internet control despite the fact that transparency and accountability in limiting the rights of the public is critical to avoid abuse of power.

“In order to avoid abuse of power, the Regulation should be revoked or annulled,” concluded Mr. Fauzi.

(For more information on the Minister Regulation, see ILB No. 2451)

(hot/kc)

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