Indonesia: Ministerial Regulation 5 will exacerbate freedom of expression restrictions

Indonesia: Ministerial Regulation 5 will exacerbate freedom of expression restrictions - Digital

On 24 November 2020, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of the Republic of Indonesia issued Regulation of the Minister of Communication and Informatics Number 5 of 2020 on Private Electronic System Operators (hereinafter ‘Ministerial Regulation 5’ or ‘the Regulation’). In this analysis, ARTICLE 19 reviews the Regulation for its compliance with international freedom of expression standards.

Ministerial Regulation 5 governs the functioning of private electronic systems operators (ESOs) accessible in Indonesia which include social media platforms, search engines, ecommerce platforms, games, and communications services. Ministerial Regulation 5 will affect Indonesian services and platforms as well as multinational companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, TikTok, and others.

The Regulation, promulgated in November 2020, despite concerns from civil society, grants the government overbroad authority to regulate Private ESO activity, gives authorities access to user data, and provides for sweeping notice and takedown orders. Ministerial Regulation 5 governs both local and international ESOs, requiring registration and designation of contact person(s) in Indonesia, who may be at risk of arbitrary reprisal for failure to comply with overbroad requests. It also introduces excessive penalties for non-compliance, from fines to full shutdown of services in Indonesia.

ARTICLE 19 highlights the following concerns regarding Ministerial Regulation 5:

  • It includes overbroad and vague definitions;
  • It requires data localisation;
  • It grants authorities data access without adequate procedural safeguards;
  • It introduces sweeping notice and takedown orders;
  • It includes excessive penalties for failure to comply.

Ministerial Regulation 5 is the latest addition to the legal arsenal used by the Indonesian government to crack down on freedom of expression. Rather than addressing restrictions on freedom of expression and access to information online, Ministerial Regulation 5 will exacerbate existing freedom of expression challenges and introduce more severe restrictions on internet freedom. On 28 May 2021, a coalition of 25 Indonesian and international human rights organisations sent an open letter to Indonesia’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology to express concerns about the Regulation’s impact on the rights to freedom of expression and privacy. This analysis elaborates on these concerns in greater detail and provides arguments as to why it fails to meet relevant human rights standards.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Indonesian government to immediately revoke Ministerial Regulation 5.

Read the analysis

For more information

Michael Caster, Asia Digital Programme Manager, [email protected].