Semarang, Central Java (ANTARA) - Three giant tech corporations -- Google, Facebook, and Twitter-- could be blocked for not registering themselves as electronic system operators by the set deadline of July 20, 2022, an expert stated.

Head of the National Cyber Research Agency CISSReC Dr Pratama Persadha remarked that the government could demonstrate to giant tech corporations, such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, that they could take firm measures and not play by their rules.

"Seeing from the number of users, for example, Twitter, there are 10 million to 15 million active users in Indonesia. Hence, there is no reason to not take firm measures," the expert made the remarks in Semarang on Monday.

Persadha said that the Communication and Information Technology Ministry had also imposed a strict measure on Telegram, which had 10 million users at that time.

However, until recently, there was no clear deadline for the registration obligation imposed on foreign private electronic system operators under the Communication and Information Technology Ministry's Regulation Number 5 of 2020 on private electronic system providers, as lastly amended by the ministry's Regulation Number 10 of 2021. Some articles, such as Section 9 or 14, were deemed vague or subjective.

Persadha remarked that in these sections, it was stipulated that contents could be taken down under the premise that they were viewed as provocative and/or disturbed peace.

The expert then compared it to other countries where a similar step could be taken only after a case was filed and request to take down content was issued by the court.

"Hence, those vague articles must be reviewed by the Communication and Information Technology Ministry and discussed together with the general public," he stated.

Threat to Facebook

Persadha stated that there were 130 million Facebook users in Indonesia. However, it was not as crucial as Google was, which was extensively used even in educational institutions, companies, and governments at the central and regional scopes.

It was worth noting that Facebook's corporate entity was now Meta, he remarked. He pointed out that it, along with WhatsApp and Instagram, were included in the same management -- Meta -- a social media network company based in California, the United States.

"Hence, are WhatsApp and Instagram going to be blocked as well?" he questioned.

It was a different matter with regard to WhatsApp, for it has become the main instant messaging application used currently, he said. Hence, they could not apply the same approach as the one they did with Telegram, which immediately faced the threat of restriction due to its smaller pool of users.

The expert deems it important to give it some time while the people were being informed as well as give time to Facebook, as the owner of WhatsApp, to register with the Ministry.

"Hence, a shock therapy is needed, as all along, they felt safe in their greatness owing to the large number of users in Indonesia," he added.

It included their insolence, particularly Facebook, in terms of tax. They refused to establish base in Indonesia, and instead, they just rented an office room and kept security personnel to only receive letters.

He stated that the public would understand if these corporations were informed ahead of time. Now, it was a matter of only days for the government, through the ministry, to elaborate on the policy.

Everyone needs to know

Everyone must know that if Facebook and Twitter do not immediately meet the requirements to operate in Indonesia, those social media platforms would be blocked until they could follow to the policy, he emphasized.

The expert stated that Facebook would be at great loss because the company has a relatively large number of users in Indonesia. Thus, an announcement from the government was important, especially for those advertising on these platforms, to cease their promotions during the time the media platforms were blocked.

As for Google, Persadha opined that its restriction would trigger much greater public protests, as the service was used by many, including higher education institutions, corporations, and also the government.

Not to mention YouTube, he said. The video-sharing platform under Google's management had become a platform in which many got their earnings, with the worse being Google services on android smartphones. Should Google be blocked, it would impact several applications, rendering them useless.

He stated that this was the reason behind the European Union prohibiting Google from offering it applications as default programs on Android phones distributed in that area. Apart from that act being a breach of the monopoly policy, the measure was taken to reduce their people's dependence on Google applications.

"Once more, approach towards Google is indeed a bit different. It will be better if the state does not give in to Google cum suis because other states have imposed strict measures, at least with fine. If they do not pay the fine, Google cs will have its services restricted," he added.

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Translator: D.Dj Kliwantoro
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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