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Jakarta Post

ITE Law increasingly threatens press freedom

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Mon, November 17, 2014   /  07:54 pm

The Association of Indonesian Internet Providers (APJII) and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Watch Indonesia say there has been arbitrary use of Law No.11/2008 on electronic information and transactions (ITE) that will eventually lead to an increase in the number of people imprisoned for alleged defamatory comments on social media.

They claim that such a condition threatens press freedom and poses heavier challenges to the public in obtaining quality information.

'€œAs an impact, there is a crisis in news sources and this situation has happened in Makassar, South Sulawesi,'€ ICT Watch director Donny Budi Utoyo told journalists at the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Yogyakarta office on Saturday.

Article 27 (3) of the 2008 ITE Law stipulates criminal punishment for anyone found guilty of transmitting electronic information or documents that intimidate or defame another.

Donny said LBH Makassar had complained that many critical news sources were being targeted by parties who made claims of losses because of their statements in media, which led to the invoking of the law'€™s Article 27 (3). As a result, few critical experts were willing to be news sources for journalists, he added.

'€œIt is likely difficult for them to target regular media companies because of stronger protection provided by the 1999 Press Law and they therefore target the news sources using Article 27 of the 2008 ITE Law,'€ said Donny.

He said such a practice was threatening press freedom and hampering the public in obtaining quality information.

According to ICW Watch Indonesia data, as of October 2014, 71 people had faced defamation charges under Article 27 (3) of the ITE Law since it was passed in 2008. Of the total, 40 cases occurred in 2014. In the latest case, Ervina Emy Handayani, a housewife from Bantul, Yogyakarta, was criminalized for criticizing her husband'€™s dismissal as being unfair on her Facebook account.

'€œIt is getting easier for people in power to use Article 27 (3) to criminalize people who have different opinions,'€ said Donny.

He said the 2008 ITE Law actually had a good content, but that the law'€™s Article 27 (3) had led Indonesia to experience repression, such as what happened in authoritarian countries in Southeast Asia such as Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore.

'€œWe want the defamation article removed from the 2008 ITE Law. The law should regulate information and electronic transactions only,'€ said APJII chairman Semuel A.Pangerapan. (dyl/ebf)(+++)

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