Gov’t says Personal Data Protection Bill to be ratified amid mounting cybersecurity concerns

Coordinating Legal, Political, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD (Center) during a press conference on cyber security on Sept. 14, 2022. Photo: Video screengrab
Coordinating Legal, Political, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD (Center) during a press conference on cyber security on Sept. 14, 2022. Photo: Video screengrab

It took a drawn out and embarrassing public spat with an anonymous hacker for the Indonesian government to finally realize the need to patch up the country’s woeful cybersecurity shortcomings.

Coordinating Legal, Political, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD held a press conference today announcing plans for the formation of a cybersecurity task force to counter data breaches in Indonesia. Mahfud was flanked by Communications and Information Technology (Kominfo) Minister Johnny G. Plate and National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN) chief Hansi Siburian — men whose institutions have been mandated to protect the country from cyber attacks in their respective capacities.

The coordinating minister also announced that the House of Parliament (DPR) is about a month away from ratifying the Personal Data Protection Bill.

The bill, which aims to give comprehensive protection on personal data online, as well as strengthen the country’s cyber security with the formation of task forces, among others, has stalled in DPR since 2014.

Seemingly confident that the measures would suffice in thwarting nefarious online threats, Mahfud still played down the severity of recent reported data leaks coming out of Indonesia.

“The people must remain calm, because, to this second, no state secrets have been leaked,” he said, indirectly devaluing the millions of citizens’ private data that had allegedly been put up for sale by hackers recently.

Mahfud reserved special mention for a hacker with the pseudonym Bjorka, who last week called the government idiots after a Kominfo official pleaded with hackers not to attack the country instead of fixing its cyber security.

“In truth, nothing [Bjorka] leaked posed too much harm. Bjorka doesn’t actually have the expertise nor ability to breach into difficult databases. If we give him the benefit of the doubt, he just wants to tell us to be vigilant because we can be breached,” Mahfud said.

Earlier this month, Bjorka listed 1.3 billion Indonesian SIM card registration data for sale on a hacker marketplace, containing citizens’ KTP (ID cards) and KK (Family Cards) details. 

Things soon turned personal between Bjorka and the government, with the former branding himself a defender of the Indonesian people while leaking more data, including documents and letters to President Joko Widodo. He also posted private information of senior officials such as Johnny G. Plate and Mahfud, to which the latter said he was not in the least bit troubled.

At any rate, Mahfud said the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the National Police are close to revealing Bjorka’s true identity, but the senior minister did not provide further details citing an ongoing investigation.

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