AJI disappointed with court ruling backing government's authority to block internet

Liputan 6 – October 29, 2021
Police on guard outside Constitutional Court in Central Jakarta – June 26, 2019 (Antara)

Jakarta – The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), as one of the parties in a judicial review of Article 40 Paragraph (2b) of Law Number 19/2016 on Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) on the blocking and restriction of internet access in Papua, says it is disappointed with the Constitutional Court's (MK) ruling.

"The AJI is of course very disappointed with the judges' ruling and I think that this is a concrete example of erroneous thinking", said AJI General Chairperson Sasmito Madrim in a YouTube channel broadcast on Friday October 29.

This is because the challenge launched by AJI, along with Suarapapua.com representative Arnoldus Belau, seeking clarification on the government's authority to unilaterally block internet access or website content was rejected by the Constitutional Court judges.

"Because we know our democracy at the moment is not just okay, because these blurry regulations such as Article 40 Paragraph 2b of the ITE Law must be clarified. Because there is potential for the misuse of power there, this must be minimalised", he said.

According to Madrim, in rejecting the challenge the court will create an erroneous thinking which justifies arbitrary actions by the government in unilaterally blocking internet access or access to content.

"The argument was that officials with the related authority are always correct. That official who block content are deemed by the panel of judges to always be correct", he said.

Yet AJI, said Madrim, raised the concrete case of Suarapapua.com in 2016 when the Communication and Information Ministry (Kominfo) unilaterally blocked content from Suarapapua.com without explanation.

"At the time, in 2016 Suarapapua.com was blocked without a sensible or clear explanation. When colleagues questioned what content was considered to contain negative content, Kominfo itself was unable to explain", he said.

It was because of this that AJI along with other civil society organisations challenged the law with the Constitutional Court so that the government would no longer be able to act arbitrarily.

"So AJI, Suarapapua.com, and other lawyers were pushing so that there would have to be a state administrative court (PTUN) ruling before content is blocked", he said.

"So there would not just be a notification, or announcement. But there must be a ruling by a state administrative court which clearly explains what the basis is for the content being blocked", he added.

Basically, if the regulation is not clarified, it is quite possible that what was experienced by Suarapapua.com could be experienced by other media which in the end will impact on and harm journalists as well as media companies.

"When our colleagues' coverage is deemed negative, the content can then be blocked without a clarification which is sensible and without public transparency. Based on the panel of judges' considerations it was very clearly depicted like that, that the panel of judges only see the internet as a threat, yet the internet's function in empowering much of society was not included in the panel of judges' considerations", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "MK Tolak Gugatan Pemutusan Internet, AJI: Kesesatan Berpikir yang Nyata".]

Source: https://www.liputan6.com/news/read/4697270/mk-tolak-gugatan-pemutusan-internet-aji-kesesatan-berpikir-yang-nyata