Patrolling social media 24/7, spy agency to 'visit' repeat offenders' homes

Okezone – March 10, 2021
Intelligence officer at Communication and Information Ministry 'patrolling' internet – Undated (Kominfo)

Erfan Maaruf, Jakarta – The State Intelligence Agency (BIN) is conducting 24 hour patrols for hate speech and hoaxes on social media (medsos). And they are not just patrolling cyberspace, BIN will also go into the field to act against those spreading negative content.

BIN Deputy Director Wawan Purwanto says that the patrols are being conducted 24 hours a day and that they are safeguarding public space so the mass media is free of hate speech and hoaxes which could create disunity.

"The 24 hour cyber patrols are to deter negative content which could harm the public interest and crate social and political instability in Indonesia", said Purwanto during a virtual discussion on Wednesday March 10.

And they will not just conduct cyber patrols. BIN will also take action against those who spread hate speech and hoaxes by physically visiting perpetrators and issuing warnings to social media users.

"The patrols will issue a warning to users. For those who really go too far, we will personally warn them", he said.

Purwanto related how in one case BIN visited the private residence of a perpetrator who turned out to be a child with special needs.

"We told the parents, 'Sir, Madam, sorry but your child has been [behaving] like this on medsos and this could give rise to unrest and it is subject to criminal sanctions. But because we saw there was something wrong and your child had a deficiency, please give them guidance", he said telling the story.

In response to requests to revise the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law, Purwanto said this needs to be considered. Public space needs to be provided with communication ethics so that individual freedoms do not violate the freedoms of other people.

"Revising the ITE Law also needs to be reviewed in concert with the rapid growth in internet users", he said.

Purwanto said that the spread of hoaxes on social media has now reached 60 percent. Many efforts are being utilised on social media with the specific aim of harming society.

"There are many who use it for particular interests. Because of this, the measures being taken are also extra-cautious and in the wider public interest", he explained.

Earlier, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said that he had asked Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly to draft revisions to the ITE Law.

The former Jakarta governor said that if the ITE Law cannot provide a sense of justice then he will ask the House of Representatives (DPR) to cooperate with the government to revise it.

"If the ITE Law cannot provide a sense of justice, yes, I will ask the DPR to jointly revise the law. The ITE Law", said Widodo. (kha)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Patroli Medsos 24 Jam, BIN Akan Datangi Pemilik Akun yang "Kebablasan"".]