Jakarta – The Press Council says that the digital attacks experienced by several online mass media sites recently are a form of censorship.
This was declared by the Press Council in response to a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against the online media sites Narasi TV, Konde.co and Batamnews.co.id.
"According to the Press Council, the DDoS attacks against the media websites and the hacking of journalists' social media accounts are an attempt to silence the press. Yet the work of journalists and the media is protected under Law Number 40/1999 on the Press", read the official statement from the Press Council on Thursday October 27.
"Digital violence against journalists and the media cannot be ignored. This is dangerous because it curbs press freedom", said Press Council Legislation and Legal Commission Head Arif Zulkifli in the official statement.
Zulkifli said that ignoring digital violence and the lack of any progress on earlier incidents being handled by law enforcement agencies will have a bad impact on the press. Journalists and the media will think twice before writing critical or sensitive articles which touch on those in power.
"This will harm the public because it will reduce access to information which is transparent and important", he said.
Press Council member Ninik Rahayu meanwhile added that the Digital Violence Taskforce will monitor cases being handled by the police, in particular the recent hacking of Narasi (Narrative) Media editorial staff social media accounts which were reported to the police's criminal investigations directorate (Bareskrim).
With regard to the DDoS attacks against Konde.co and Batamnews.co.id, Rahayu hopes that both media groups will report them to the police.
"It is important to report these cases to law enforcement agencies so that it can be processed through to the courts. This is so it creates a deterrent effect for perpetrators and so it won't be repeated in the future", said Rahayu.
Attacks on three media groups
Earlier, the Press Council along with representatives from the three media groups held a clarification meeting on the DDoS attacks on the 7th floor of the Press Council building in Central Jakarta.
Arif Zulkifli, Ninik Rahayu and Press Council member Atmaji Sapto Anggoro along with Press Council expert staff member Hendrayana attended the meeting.
The meeting verified and at the same time put together a chronology of the digital attacks experienced by the three media groups over the last month.
In the first attack, Narasi TV suffered digital attacks on September 23-26. As many as 37 editorial staff – including former Narasi employees – experienced hacking attempts on their social media accounts.
They were also hit by DDoS attacks which resulted in the website going down and the work of the editorial staff being disrupted.
In this case, Narasi along with the Legal Aid Foundation for the Press (LBH Pers) and the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) submitted a report with the police's Bareskrim.
The second attack occurred on October 24 when around four hours after it published an article on a rape case that allegedly took place at the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small-and-Medium Enterprises (Kemenkop-UKM), the Konde.co Website was hit by a DDoS attack.
As a result the website went down and the article could no longer be accessed after it was discussed widely on social media.In the third attack, Batamnews.co.id suffered a DDoS attack after the media portal published an article about a smuggling case in Batam City which mentioned a specific [government] institution. (ryn/kid)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Dewan Pers: Serangan DDos ke Media Massa Bentuk Upaya Pembungkaman".]