Yahoo!, Steam, PayPal now accessible in Indonesia as IT Ministry feels the heat

Indonesia’s IT Ministry (Kominfo) has lifted its ban on several internet services and games in the latest update to the ongoing Electronic Systems Provider (PSE) saga.

In a press release issued today, Kominfo’s director general of informatics applications, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, said the ministry has lifted the bans on Yahoo!, Valve Corporation’s PC gaming platform Steam as well as the games Counter Strike and DOTA 2.

In the case of PayPal, Kominfo previously lifted its block on the payment platform on July 31. The ministry said it was giving users until Aug. 5 to withdraw their money and migrate to alternate payment services.

In the latest announcement, Semuel did not say whether or not the reinstatement of access to the above services, including for PayPal, is permanent.

Kominfo has been under intense public scrutiny over its decision to ban some of the world’s most popular online services over license breaches. Some protesters even threatened to chuck bottled urine at the ministry’s Jakarta office yesterday, but they wisely did not go ahead with the plan due to criminal prosecution concerns.

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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