SafeSearch on: Indonesia IT Ministry instructs all ISPs to restrict pornography from search engines by tomorrow

A relatively SFW Google Images search results for “naked ladies” using an Indonesian ISP. Photo: Coconuts Media
A relatively SFW Google Images search results for “naked ladies” using an Indonesian ISP. Photo: Coconuts Media

The Indonesian government is escalating their long-yet-ultimately-futile battle against internet pornography as they aim to target the enabler of the supposed problem: search engines.

On Friday, Indonesia’s IT Ministry (Kominfo) announced that ISPs have until tomorrow (Aug 7) for local ISPs to restrict pornographic content that can appear in search engines. What this means is, essentially, search engines like Google will have their SafeSearch toggled on by default by the ISP, preventing any naughty videos and pictures to appear in any search.

“We are at war with pornographic content on the internet, especially in search engines,” Kominfo Information Application Director General Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan told Detik.

As of this morning, multiple netizens have confirmed that, using one specific ISP, porn is no longer searchable on Google and SafeSearch can’t be switched off. We have also found this to be the case for said ISP, but that could quickly change by the end of today as other ISPs are expected to implement the porn search ban.

Photo: Coconuts Media

However, it doesn’t seem like Kominfo’s search engine porn restriction is completely foolproof as netizens claim that workarounds that can bypass any of Kominfo’s previous internet porn restrictions still apply.

If there’s one battle that’s impossible to win, it’s the battle to block every single instance of internet porn. But that is the battle the Indonesian government has been engaged in ever since internet pornography was officially made illegal in 2008. Since then, many major pornographic websites have been blocked while sites like Reddit and Tumblr, which contain a small portion of pornography, have also become unnecessary casualties.

This year, Kominfo launched a US$14 million automatic porn censorship system that they say will be able to block 30 million websites containing negative content, which also include gambling, extremism and sexual education. The tech was seen by many as a waste of money as there always have been, and, theoretically, there always will be, workarounds to any internet censorship. 

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