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Jokowi enacts revised law against defamation and online gambling

Jakarta Globe - January 4, 2024

Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has signed amendments to the law governing electronic transactions and information. These revisions introduce new provisions concerning online gambling, defamation, dissemination of false information, and the distribution of graphic content.

The amended Article 27 (2) explicitly prohibits online gambling, imposing severe penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment and fines of up to Rp 10 billion ($645,000) for operators found guilty of running gambling sites.

The defamation clause remains unchanged in the contentious law, which has sent many people behind bars for baseless accusations and slanderous statements.

It stipulates a maximum prison term of two years and fines reaching Rp 400 million for "whoever deliberately tarnishes the integrity and reputation of others through accusations made on publicly accessible electronic platforms."

The penalty can be doubled if the accuser fails to substantiate the allegations within a specified period. However, the law specifies that authorities cannot initiate a criminal investigation into defamation without a formal complaint from the accused.

Moreover, sharing pornographic content through electronic platforms is deemed a punishable offense, carrying a sentence of up to six years in prison and fines of up to Rp 1 billion.

Similar penalties apply to blackmail, threats, dissemination of false information leading to material harm, and incitement of racial or sectarian conflicts using electronic platforms.

Exceptions are made for instances where the dissemination of graphic content or personal accusations is intended for self-defense or serves the public interest.

The law is influenced by the case of Baiq Nuril, a female teacher who faced imprisonment after sharing an audio recording of her school's headmaster who discussed his past sexual acts with a colleague.

In 2019, Baiq was sentenced to six months in prison and fined Rp 500 million for disseminating graphic content. This verdict sparked public outcry as her intention was to expose misconduct and safeguard herself and fellow female teachers from the headmaster's inappropriate behavior.

Baiq, a part-time teacher at a public high school in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, was ultimately granted a pardon by President Jokowi following mounting public pressure.

The law was published on the State Secretariat website on Thursday.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/jokowi-enacts-revised-law-against-defamation-and-online-gamblin