Digital authoritarianism

Kostum Komik – July 30, 2022

1st Frame: Ffew, finally the money has come through to Paypal for the overseas job I've been working on for months, let's cash it in, my wallets' getting pretty thin...

3rd Frame: Okay, okay, don't panic, don't panic... clear your thoughts first, play a game on Steam...

According to the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), the Communication and Information Ministry’s (Kominfo) move to block a number of websites and applications on July 30 amounts to digital authoritarianism.

The group made the remark after the Kominfo blocked several websites and applications with high traffic including Paypal, Yahoo, Epic Games, Steam, Dota, Counter Strike, and Origin (EA), on the grounds that the platforms had not registered as private Electronic System Operators (PSE).

"These restrictions (the blocking) of internet sites and applications have given birth to what is referred to as authoritarianism which takes advantage of digital power in the context of controlling technology as a tool to protect the interests (digital authoritarianism) [of those in power]", said LBH Jakarta lawyer Teo Reffelsen in an official release on Sunday July 31.

The group said this could have a serious impact on the right to communication and to obtain information, freedom of expression and privacy, and could violate other rights such as the right to seek a livelihood, the right to a decent life, the right to happiness and the right to self-development.

They added that the policy is also problematic because it allows for direct intervention by ordering platforms to remove content on the pretext that it creates social unrest or disturbs public order, without any standard definition of this.