Indonesia’s IT ministry announces purchase of IDR221 billion system to automate internet censorship

Back in August, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Menkominfo) announced that it wanted to take its censorship abilities to the next level and it looks like a newly purchased system will allow them to do just that starting next year.

Although Menkominfo says it has already blocked over 800,000 websites (mostly for pornography, but also those containing other subject matter related to their “negative content” guidelines including gambling, extremism, sexual education, etc.), the current system requires Menkominfo staff to manually enter websites into the system. But today, the ministry announced they had purchased a new system that will largely automate the censorship process.

And all that system will cost them is IDR 211 billion (US$15.6 million). That’s how much Menkominfo will pay PT Industri Telekomunikasi Indonesia (PT Inti), a state-owned IT company that beat out 71 other participants in the tender process, to implement the new censorship system.

There were previously concerns that the system procured by Menkominfo would utilize Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), which would theoretically give the government the ability to spy on users’ Internet information in real-time, which they could use for data mining and eavesdropping as well as censorship.

However, Menkominfo’s director general of informatics applications (APTIKA), Semuel Abrijani, said that PT Inti’s system did not use DPI and would instead utilize a “crawling” system that would use keywords to analyze sites for negative content. He said that this system would be far more efficient than the current manual system, which requires websites to be checked one-by-one, so their target is to block an estimated 30 million pornographic websites.

Indonesia’s new automated Internet censorship system is scheduled to begin operation at the beginning of 2018.

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