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Govt's plan to block social media accounts may threaten diversity of opinion

Tempo - October 21, 2020

Fajar Pebrianto, Jakarta – The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo) was preparing to issue a Ministerial Regulation (Permen) to block social media accounts spreading false news or hoaxes. The plan has been criticized as it has the potential to suppress or ban opinion diversity of society.

"While in fact, it (diversity of opinion) livens up democracy," said Rifqi Rachman, a political researcher in the Indonesian Institute, Center for Public Policy Research, in his statement in Jakarta, Tuesday, October 20, 2020.

On Monday, October 19, the Kominfo Ministry announced its plan to issue a regulation aimed at clarifying the blocking stages of accounts of social networking services that are proven to spread hoaxes.

The Director-General for Informatics Applications, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, said the policy would be passed following rampant hoaxes about COVID-19 or Infodemic as introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Semuel ensured that the information control was not intended to restrict the freedom of expression of the public.

However, Rifqi expressed worries that there was potential abuse of the policy against the public's freedom of expression in cyberspace. "The Director-General's statement describes how our opinions in social media are inseparable from the government supervision," he added.

The government, Rifqi argued, seemed to have the authority to sort and assess all opinions that massively circulated on online platforms. This, he added, also showed that the government could take action against opinions that do not support or contrast with their decisions and acts.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1397982/govts-plan-to-block-social-media-accounts-may-threaten-diversity-of-opinion