Website hacks are warning to media not to criticise government: Journalists

Source – August 24, 2020
AJI Chairperson Abdul Manan speaking to journalists in Jakarta – May 3, 2018 (Kompas)

Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Jakarta – The Committee for the Safety of Journalists (KKJ) says that the hacking of mass media websites is a new threat against the work of journalists in Indonesia.

“I think this is a new threat that hasn’t happened before and we need to adapt to this”, said Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Chairperson Abdul Manan during a press conference on Monday August 24.

Manan suspects that the hacking of mass media websites was intentional and there is an apparent pattern where the attacks are against mass media which have carried reports critical of the government.

This also gives rise to a very clear message that these attacks are being done intentionally and in a structured and premeditated manner. Manan is urging those media who fall victim to hacking to be open to public so that they know the scale of the attacks.

“What we must do is ensure that our media friends who suffer similar attacks are open about it”, said Manan. “Because in this way we will know the scale of the current spate of attacks against the media”, he continued.

Manan added that by being open, he hopes that joint preparations can be put in place if and when the next attack occurs against media which has been critical of the government.

On the other hand, these hacks are also an effort to extinguish critical attitudes by the media against government policy.

This critical attitude could be seen when media reports questioned claims by the Airlangga University, the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Army (TNI AD) that they had found a cure for Covid-19.

According to Manan, these reports actually gave the impression that the government is unable to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Thus it is reasonable to suspect that these digital attacks were intended to provide a warning to the media, specifically to tell the media to stop publishing (critical) reports, such as making an issue over things that the government wants to do during the pandemic”, explained Manan.

Based on data from the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), five mass media website have fallen victim to hacking attacks including and

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Komite Keselamatan Jurnalis Sebut Peretasan Media Jadi Ancaman Baru”.]