Activists Want Wiretapping Safeguards

Jakarta, Indonesia must have a law focused solely on the mechanisms, controls and procedures on wiretapping, human rights organizations say.

Zainal Abidin, deputy director of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), said on Friday that articles on wiretapping in existing regulations failed to protect the right to privacy.

Zainal’s comments came as the House of Representatives debates a new national intelligence bill, with legislators seeming to favor the idea of giving the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) the power to conduct wiretaps and track money trails without court permission.

The draft bill does not have any specifics on controls or watchdogs that are to supervise BIN in this regard. Zainal said the impact of allowing wiretapping to be carried out without proper controls and mechanisms could be damaging to the rights of private Indonesian citizens and infringe their human rights.

“There are currently a number of laws containing articles that authorize certain state bodies to conduct wiretaps,” he said, referring to the Anti-Narcotics Law, the Anti-Corruption Law and the Human Trafficking Law among others.

“These articles are vulnerable to abuse by law enforcers due to lack of controls and clarity, not to mention overlapping duties.”

Zainal said a special wiretapping law should list in clear detail the exact requirements needed to be met to obtain a permit to conduct a wiretap.

It should also specify how long the wiretapping would be allowed to continue and define limitations on who would have access to the data.

He added that the separate law should specify a body that would regulate and supervise agencies that conduct wiretaps.

Anggara Suwahju, a senior associate of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, agreed with Zainal.

“It [wiretapping] could be used to spy on political rivals, for instance. There needs to be clear controls, including, for example, getting court permission,” Anggara said.

Both Elsam and ICJR urged the House of Represenatives to launch a public discussion and listen to as much public feedback as possible before considering passing the national intelligence bill into law, particularly in relation to the regulations on wiretapping.

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