Steam, Epic Games, PayPal: Indonesia bans access

The Indonesian government maintains blocked access to a range of online services, including Steam, Epic Games, PayPal, and Yahoo, after the companies fell to comply with a new provision related to the country’s restrictive content moderation laws.

In line with the rules, institutions deemed “Private Electronic System Providers” must register with the government’s database to operate in the country or otherwise face a nationwide ban.

Indonesia gave Steam, Epic Games, PayPal until July 27 to comply and has since banned those that haven’t. The provision is part of an overarching law called MR5, which was first introduced in 2020.

The rules allow the Indonesian government to obtain data about specific users and coerce companies into removing content that “disturbs public order” or is deemed illegal. Platforms have four hours to take action on “urgent” removal requests or 24 hours in the case of any other content.

A 2021 report from the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls Indonesia’s laws “invasive of human rights,” as it puts platforms at the mercy of the Indonesian government, which will ban them if they are not in compliance with local laws. Earlier this month, the EFF wrote a letter to the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo), suggesting the government repeal its “invasive content moderation rules.”

The ban has left users in Indonesia stuck without the ability to process payments or even play certain games. Daniel Ahmad, a senior judge at Niko Partners, pointed out that some other popular games and services affected by the ban include Origin, DOTA 2, and Counter-Strike. Meanwhile, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, TikTok, Twitter, Netflix, and Spotify registered for a license last week, and all remain available.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, abbreviated as Kominfo, is a ministry of the government of Indonesia that is accountable for communication, information affairs, and internet censorship. The ministry reports to the president and is led by a minister.

While the current ministry was founded in 2001, its roots date to the early days of the National Revolution as the Deptt. of Information (Departemen Penerangan/Deppen) began on August 19, 1945.

The ministry is often condemned for its censorship, as it blocks websites “to protect its citizen from hoaxes.” In 2020, the Director General Ministry Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan and Johnny G. Plate introduced a law requiring foreign companies to register under the Electronic System Operator list. It could give the government access to the citizen’s info and threaten the company to block access from the country if the company did not register. The law was revised and passed in 2021

Steam Epic Games PayPal

Kominfo general director Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan said the country might give users access to PayPal for a small window of time during the ban. Pangerapan also noted that the ban would be lifted once the companies register with the country’s database. However, it’s unclear when these services will come back online or if they’ll register with the Indonesian database.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a global non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California. The foundation was formed on July 10, 1990, by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow, and Mitch Kapor to boost Internet civil liberties.

The EFF delivers funds for legal defense in court, defends individuals, presents amicus curiae briefs and new technologies from what it considers offensive legal threats, and works to expose government wrongdoing. In addition, it provides guidance to the government and courts, organizes political action and mass mailings, and supports some new technologies. It preserves personal freedoms and online civil liberties, maintains a database and websites of related news and information, and monitors. It challenges potential legislation that it believes would infringe on personal freedom and fair use and solicits a list of what it feels abusive patents with intentions to beat those that it feels are without merit.

The Patent Busting Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) initiative contesting patents that the organization shares are illegitimate and stifle innovation or limit online expression. The industry launched on April 19, 2004, and involves two phases: verifying the damage caused by these patents and submitting challenges to the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The EFF has long advocated paper audit trails for voting machines and testified to support them after the United States presidential election in 2004. Later, it funded the research of Hariprasad Vemuru, who exposed vulnerabilities in a particular model. Since 2008, the EFF has operated the Our Vote Live website and database. Staffed by hotline volunteers, it is designed to quickly document irregularities and instances of voter suppression as they occur on an election day. The EFF was dynamic in the United States presidential election in 2016 because of online phishing related to the controversy over the fabrication of election results. J. Alex Halderman, a computer security professor at the University of Michigan, wrote an article published in Medium in 2016. It states he thought it was advisable to have a recount on some of the election results from states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, which exclusively says Hillary Clinton lost. In retaliation against Halderman, a hacker sent anti-Semitic and racist emails to students at the University of Michigan signed by Halderman. The EFF publicizes these controversies and promotes the reduction of online phishing.