The move was followed by a severe backlash on social media as netizens see it as a threat to digital freedom in Indonesia.
The Indonesian government blocked the video gaming site Steam and seven other websites on July 30 due to non-compliance with licensing rules, sparking severe criticism on social media.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo), blocked at least eight websites, including Yahoo, gaming sites like Steam, Dota, Counter-Strike, Epic Games and Origin.com, advertising website Xandr.com and online payment firm PayPal.
However, amid growing backlash from netizens and to allow users to get their money, the government of the Southeast nation temporarily opened access to PayPal for five working days.
Major tech giants like Google, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp and Amazon rushed to register just before the deadline, which was initially July 20 and later extended till July 27.
According to TheJakartaPost, about 200 international and 8,000 domestic private electronic services providers, or ESPs, had registered with the communications ministry before last week’s deadline.
“The ministry has said it would block any ESP that failed to register and that registrants would have to comply with its content-moderation rules, as stipulated in a 2020 ministerial regulation on private ESPs,” the report added.
According to a Reuters report, “Registration is required under rules released in late November 2020 and will give authorities broad powers to compel platforms to disclose data of certain users, and take down content deemed unlawful or that “disturbs public order” within four hours if urgent and 24 hours if not.”
The move was followed by a severe backlash on social media as netizens see it as a threat to digital freedom in the country.
Indonesia, however, is not the first country to block online platforms. Section 69A of India’s Information Technology Act empowers the federal government to block online content that threatens the security and public order of the state.
In India, over 6,000 URLs, accounts and websites were blocked last year citing the reason as protection of the nation’s peace, sovereignty and integrity.
In 2020, the Indian government blocked a bulk of Chinese apps, including the popular short-video app TikTok and gaming app PUBG, amid the Ladakh stand-off.