Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Game over

The introduction of webfilters in Australia has inspired other governments to do the same. Tifatul Sembiring, the Indonesian Minister of Information and Communications, announced last week that his country plans to ‘filter content on the internet by using a system like the one Australia has chosen for’. 

A monitoring committee would determine what online content is to be blocked. Under the new web regime, internet service providers (ISPs) would be forbidden to transmit or distribute pornography ‘or anything else considered to be illegal or immoral’, as well as ‘lies and misleading information’. The Ministry has made clear that article 4 of the proposals covers online gambling, already illegal in Indonesia. Online betting has become a relatively popular spare time activity in the island state, and although there are no Indonesian gambling websites, hundreds of international operators manage to reach many Indonesians every day. The statement by the Ministry has caused outrage many Indonesians, the Alliance of Independent Journalists have condemned the proposals saying it ‘is a violation of political and internet freedom’. Many fear the proposed system is vulnerable for abuse and it effectively means the end of freedom of expression and the right to information. And – if the filters will be introduced – it is a safe bet to say it will be the end of online gambling in Indonesia.

 Michiel Willems (2010) - Published earlier in E-Finance & Payments Magazine, London