Protesters plan to throw bottled urine at IT Ministry office to protest PayPal, Steam bans — and they say they ain’t playing

Photo: kominfo.go.id
Photo: kominfo.go.id

Indonesia’s Information and Communications Ministry (Kominfo) has fallen so far down on the dignity scale, that some say they are going to chuck urine in bottles at the ministry’s Jakarta office this afternoon to protest its recent ban of online services and gaming platforms.

Kominfo on Saturday blocked local access to payment platform PayPal, search engine Yahoo!, PC gaming platform Steam and Origin, as well as the games DOTA 2, Counter Strike, and those produced by Epic Games.

The seven had failed to obtain Kominfo’s new local Electronic Systems Provider (PSE) licensing requirement by the July 20 deadline, and were blocked in Indonesia following a grace period.

Yesterday, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, director general of informatics applications at Kominfo, said that the ministry is reopening access to PayPal for five working days amid loud protests online, especially from freelance workers who depend on the platform to get paid. Semuel said this small window will afford PayPal users time to withdraw their money and migrate to other payment services, as the ministry does not intend to reverse its PayPal ban.

Despite the popularity of PC gaming in Indonesia, Kominfo has not indicated that it would lift the bans on the gaming platforms and games.

Amid the shitshow, an online group comprising college students are calling on the public to stage a protest at the Kominfo office in Central Jakarta at 2pm today. 

“Netizens’ anger clearly was not enough for Kominfo to lift its bans,” a promotional poster for the protest reads, adding that anyone who is outraged by Kominfo’s policy is welcome to join and throw bottles containing urine at the office.

It would be remiss of us if we didn’t remind our readers that throwing bottled urine at a government office is definitely not a commendable act, and it could even prove counterproductive for internet freedom in the long run. Police, too, say they will provide security at the protest and act sternly towards those who break the law.

As anger towards Kominfo rises, the ministry has reportedly advised its employees not to wear their uniforms to work for the time being to avoid them bearing the brunt for the public’s anger.

Kominfo issued a regulation requiring digital services to register as PSEs, for the purposes of cyber security and user protection, on November 24, 2020 or face a ban in Indonesia. Yet despite local and international tech companies missing previous registration deadlines, including several extensions, they had been allowed to operate in Indonesia.

The ministry has been known to ban apps and platforms on legal and/or moral grounds in recent years. These include gay dating app Blued, which was banned for its “immoral” LGBT content, TikTok for its general “negative content,” and Telegram for allegedly facilitating the spread of radical content, though the bans for the latter two have since been lifted.

SAFEnet, an NGO that works to protect freedom of speech in Southeast Asia, warned that the PSE policy would greatly hamper freedom of speech. The organization argued that the measure would grant the government even greater powers to unilaterally shut down content it deems undesirable.

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