APSN Banner

SAFEnet warns digital attacks against government critics 'deflating' democracy

Kompas.com - October 27, 2020

Irfan Kamil, Jakarta – Southeast-Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) Executive Director Damar Juniarto says that a phenomenon of deflating democracy is occurring at the moment through digital attacks against groups critical of the government.

This conclusion was reached based on SAFEnet data obtained from complaints between January and October 2020.

"We are currently being haunted by activities which obstruct and deflate democratic forces through digital [attacks]", said Juniarto during a discussion titled "The Safe Way to be Active in the Virtual World" on Tuesday October 27.

"The digital attacks we are referring to are attacks that target groups critical [of the government]", he continued.

Juniarto said that these digital attacks are not just general attacks through websites where the victims are scammed or extorted, but digital attacks that are directed at specific groups.

"The digital attacks we're talking about are targeted digital attacks, namely critical social groups consisting of journalists, human rights activist, anti-corruption activists, or friends who are fighting for traditional communities, those included as critical groups", said Juniarto.

"Now, it is these critical groups which are in the firing line of these digital attacks", he continued.

Based on SAFEnet data for 2020, Juniarto said that they recorded at least 60 cases of digital attacks against critical groups in the form of hacking of social media accounts and SMS message apps.

"Where 70 percent of the hacks were against social media accounts and taking control of WhatsApp instant messaging services", said Juniarto.

"From these figures, October was the month with the most attacks, in fact 16 digital attacks occurred in October against critical social groups", he continued.

Nevertheless, Juniarto said that this figure also needs to be crosschecked with other groups who compile similar data. This is because the data obtained by SAFEnet is only based on information received through complaints.

"We have already warned the civil society movements to be careful at the moment when pursuing efforts to consolidate, efforts to mobilise the public, garner votes such as through petitions, garner support through a hashtag and such, it's not like it used to be in previous years", said Juniarto.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "SAFEnet Sebut Kelompok Kritis Diserang Lewat Ruang Digital".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2020/10/27/21153751/safenet-sebut-kelompok-kritis-diserang-lewat-ruang-digita