It’s been an interesting few weeks. Indonesian Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring a few weeks ago demanded Research in Motion (RIM) to block pornography on its Blackberry smartphones. Or its web service will be closed down.
This raised the hackles of many Indonesians, especially those who depend on the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Service, which offers free messaging between users. Some feared that shutting of the web browser could affect their ability to socialize with their friends, while others are indignant that the government will prevent them from accessing a favorite past time.
Reaction online was swift. Some supported the Minister for doing his duty and protecting people from undue influence, while others lambasted him for pushing his morals onto others. (The Minister was the head of an Indonesian religious party).
Subsequent tweets online from the Minister’s account showcased his position against the BlackBerry, noting its lack of office in the country (RIM actually already opened one), lack of service centers to repair the phones (a small network is being established) and its storage of data overseas, making it difficult to combat corruption and other criminal acts (actually, the government can ask for the data from RIM like in other countries?)
The country does have a (controversial) anti-pornography law and nudity is completely banned on TV and film here. However, newspaper opinion pages questioned the need to zero in on RIM considering only 2 million of the 220 million people have access to the BlackBerry (and its porn pages).
In the end, RIM complied with the web censorship demand but this isn’t the first time a national government has pressured the Canadian company. India, United Arab Emirates and others have threatened RIM since their web traffic goes through Canada and is encrypted, so no spy agency or national police can easily tap in and snoop around.
Considering that Egypt just turned off the ENTIRE Internet for the WHOLE country, it seems some governments are getting a bit worried about this all access, all free internet sites. Especially if you are not exactly the most democratic country in the world. Even the U.S. is proposing an “internet kill switch“. Seems timely, as Indonesia’s Defense Minister last week stated that twitter can be a threat to national security.
I guess everyone should be wary of what their governments want to do. We must keep them honest!
- Sex Education Please, Not Censorship (censorshipinamerica.wordpress.com)