Indonesian Broadcast Commission wants to monitor Netflix & Youtube, IT Ministry says it must have legal justification

Photo: freestocks.org via Unsplash
Photo: freestocks.org via Unsplash

Indonesians are becoming increasingly concerned about possible erosions to their video streaming liberties after the country’s censorship board, the Indonesian Broadcast Commission (KPI), last week proposed that they provide oversight of platforms like Netflix and Youtube to ensure that they comply with Indonesia’s broadcast standards.

Those standards have led to infamous examples of overzealous censorship such as the blurring of the body of an athlete who wore a one-piece swimsuit to the censoring of bikinis worn by cartoon characters like Sandy from Spongebob Squarepants and Shizuka from Doraemon and even a man’s nipples (though, to be fair, those censorship decisions were made by the TV stations that aired those programs, but they said they did so in order to avoid fines from KPI).

Could a show such as the Netflix original Sex Education receive the same censorship treatment by KPI? Well, such concerns became real last week, when, during the inauguration of its new commissioners, KPI Chairman Agung Suprio said the censorship board would look into monitoring content on digital platforms because that’s what millennials “spend hours on” watching these days, apparently.

“We want to immediately monitor [streaming platforms], because in new media or digital media these days those content are part of broadcasts,” Agung said as quoted by state news agency Antara.

Agus said that KPI may update its broadcasting guidelines to allow them to monitor and sanction digital platforms such as Netflix, Youtube, Facebook, and more.

The plan was met with widespread criticism, particularly by subscribers of paid streaming services. Many pointed out that the aforementioned platforms already have parental control systems in place so there was no need for further government intervention into their content.

The Indonesian Solidarity Parti (PSI) was particularly scathing in its criticism of KPI’s plan, saying that the commission should not think about censoring video streaming platforms when it can’t even ensure that Indonesian TV channels produce and broadcast quality content.

“The public has migrated to Netflix because of terrible content on conventional TV. They (KPI) should evaluate themselves first,” PSI spokeswoman Dara Nasution said in a press release.

The IT Ministry (Kominfo) — themselves a crusader against “immoral” content online — seem to be on KPI’s side but warned the censorship board that it would need to change existing regulations before having the legal standing to monitor video streaming platforms.

That said, the ministry reminded the public that it has the authority to pressure video streaming platforms and content makers to censor content — just as we saw happen to Indonesian Youtuber Kimi Hime’s videos recently.

“Kominfo can actually receive tips from anyone, including KPI. If KPI feels that content on those new media platforms are against the rules, they can inform Kominfo to take further action,” Kominfo Broadcast Director Geryantika Kurnia told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Kompas.

For now, it appears that the content on streaming platforms is safe, but we could be one regulation away from them being under the constant watchful eye of the KPI.

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