Jakarta – The Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has initiated an online petition urging national police chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo to fully investigate the coordinated hacking of editorial staff at Narrative Media.
As of 4.45 pm West Indonesia Time, the online petition on the change.org website had already been signed by 116 people. In the petition, the AJI explained that the hacking of Narrative Media is the largest and most systematic hack in the last four years.
"At least 37 employees and ex-employees of Narrative were targeted in hacks of their WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts since Friday September 23, 2022", wrote the AJI in the petition on Wednesday September 28.
According to AJI, the impact of the hack was very serious with Narrative Media staff unable to work comfortably because they felt they were being "spied" on by a certain party.
Narrative Media staff were also forced to close down all editorial email communication which interfered with coordination and internal communication and even prevented them from receiving information from the public.
"We know Narrative as one of the media which has consistently produced coverage which impacts on the public. Meaning, this hack is not just an attack against the Narrative staff, but also an attack on the public", wrote the AJI.
The AJI believes that the attack was aimed at obstructing press freedom as guaranteed under Law Number 40/1999 on the Press.
Internationally, the AJI said that the right to freedom of opinion and conveying information is guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Convention on Social and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as General Comment Number 34 on Article 19 in the ICCPR.
"This right is also guaranteed under the Indonesian Constitution, namely Articles 28E and 28F as well as Article 14 of Law Number 39/1999 on Human Rights", wrote the AJI.
The AJI said that this is not the first such hack to occur and there have been eight earlier cases of such attacks against journalists and the media.
In addition to this, the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), which is part of the Fast Reaction Team to deal with digital attacks, has recorded 48 hacks against journalists, activists, students, workers and university lecturers.
"However in not one of these hacking cases against journalists or other critical social groups have the perpetrators being revealed", wrote the AJI.
According to the AJI, this shows the failure of law enforcement officials to uncover and find the attackers. Not only that, this also carries with it public suspicion that there is state involvement in the hacks.
Because of the above, the AJI is urging General Prabowo to fully investigate the hacking of the Narrative staff accounts. A transparent investigation will be seen as evidence that there are no elements of the state involved in these attacks.
"Because hacks or illegal access is a crime in the digital era which violates Article 30 Paragraph (1) of the ITE [Information and Electronic Transaction] Law", wrote the AJI.
Earlier, several Narrative Media staff had their accounts hacked. The hacking began with an attack against Narrative Producer Jay Akbar who received a WhatsApp message. Following this, Akbar was unable to access his cell phone. The cyber attack then spread to other Narrative staff members. (yoa/kid)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "AJI Indonesia Buat Petisi, Desak Kapolri Usut Peretasan Awak Narasi".]