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Indonesia bans YouTube and MySpace
April 8, 2008 9:39 PM   Subscribe

As a result of the Dutch film Fitna, Indonesia has blocked several websites including MySpace and YouTube. This follows hot on the heels of a new bill which could see people face six years of jail time or a 1 billion rupiah fine for being caught sending out porn, “false news” or racial or religious slurs on the Web. The Indonesian government will start censoring the Internet next month with specialised software. Very disappointing for a country which had a reasonably free press.
posted by BobsterLobster (43 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I was living in Thailand while they banned YouTube for insults to their King under what was essentially a military dictatorship, now I'm living in Indonesia... this feels a bit more serious. Insiduous undermining of free speech in a democratic country which has had reasonably free speech.
posted by BobsterLobster at 9:41 PM on April 8, 2008


I'm more surprised that Indonesia isn't censoring the internet than that they are about to start.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:42 PM on April 8, 2008


BobsterLobster, I just flagged you for sending out "false news" on the Web.

thanks for adding that to the dropdown list, Matt; the good people of Indonesia thank you.
posted by davejay at 9:45 PM on April 8, 2008


what do you mean by False news ? this would be allright if it was aimed just at spammers or just racial and religous slurs. Who wants to be theres gunna be a lot of people moveing out of indonesia
posted by quseio at 9:59 PM on April 8, 2008


Indonesia had "a reasonably free press" for about 35 minutes.
posted by mattoxic at 10:16 PM on April 8, 2008


Kesalahan 404: menyimpan tidak menemukan.

URL pinta anda tidak ditemukan.

Ini bisa untuk sebab berikut:

* Pornografi
* Berita palsu
* Cercaan rasial atau agama

Polisi yang datang segera
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:45 PM on April 8, 2008


> this would be allright if it was aimed just at ... just racial and religous slurs.

No, it wouldn't.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:15 PM on April 8, 2008 [8 favorites]


Sad, but it's following the same pattern as other countries in the region, such as Thailand China and Singapore where those in power think they know better than you.

The filtering in Thailand is a total mess. Some websites are blocked in Bangkok but available elsewhere in the country. The whole system is meaningless anyway. I am using a VPN now to get unfiltered access.
posted by gayasian at 11:41 PM on April 8, 2008


I think the real question is "Can they still RickRoll each other?" Won't someone think of the children?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:55 PM on April 8, 2008


At least it's not illegal to use a proxy in Indonesia, while I was in Thailand it was widely publicised that there could be serious consequences for using a proxy or VPN. As far as I'm aware, your ISP could monitor people trying to use these methods to get access to blocked sites.
posted by BobsterLobster at 12:18 AM on April 9, 2008


Some ways around this are offered in the comments here.
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 12:21 AM on April 9, 2008


I think the real question is "Can they still RickRoll each other?"

The world's imam's have issued an edict limiting Muslims to the DuckRoll.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:35 AM on April 9, 2008


No one wants real free speech. It's a resource hog and a money pit. There's no profit in it.

Be it by precious stone or by mud or by blood, free speech is much more expensive than you can possibly imagine, and I am imagining that yours is an overactive imagination. Oh sure. No one wants a troublemaker to be able to yell fire in a movie theater as a practical joke. I completely understand. We draw a line there. That ends free speech. If you put limitations on something - it AIN'T FREE!

We've gotten off easy until now. We Americans are spoiled. We think we're lucky. We give up our illusion of freedom a bit at a time for the illusion of security. Babies like being swaddled. They don't like to feel free. They like the illusion that they're protected.

Speech costs. Someone pays for it. You can talk all you want freely inside a location for which you have paid: your bedroom for example. Try saying whatever you please in someone else's place of business, and see how fast your freedom disappears if those who own that property strongly disagree with you. Here in America, we take free speech so for granted.

There's places, in America and out, where your tongue can be cut out of your head for speaking your mind - or if those with the guns fear you might speak your mind? Bang, you're dead. In such an environment, speech is only free to the ones with the loudest guns, but someone has to pay for the bullets don't they? Speech costs. Here in America, George Carlin once joked about "the seven." He was joking. It ended up in court. Courts are very expensive. Speech costs.

Howard Stern was eventually relegated to "satellite radio" where people have to pay to hear him talk about lesbians, and the 'free' airwaves controlled by paying advertisers could ignore him. Stern was fined millions for his years on FM. Speech costs. Here in America, free speech and the right to congregate in public to address grievances is delegated to "ZONES" so that those in places of power who don't want to hear dissent, can ignore it.

Men and women of past generations have died so that we can enjoy the illusion of freedom, but the debt's run up again, and the bill is coming due. I used to argue in favor of free speech, until I tired of hearing myself shouting at walls like a madman. The only reason I can say or write what I want, is because no one is listening.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:38 AM on April 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


Sad, but it's following the same pattern as other countries in the region, such as Thailand China and Singapore where those in power think they know better than you.

While I'll be the last person to be an apologist for Singapore Inc. (seeing as it is , that I've already posted here about books and movies banned in Singapore and Malaysia), the general impression I get is that Singapore is quite liberal with the net? In all my years here, I've seen exactly one website blocked by the IDA, and even that wasn't political, but hate-crime-y; it presumably had something inflammatory about Muslims.

While Big Brother Singapore definitely thinks it knows better than you as you said - it is quite rigid when it comes to books, movies and newspapers - I nevertheless believe it somehow doesn't block websites, afaik; instead, it sues the hell out of people who cause "trouble" (and I use the term in a loose, relative sense; trouble for the government, I mean).
posted by the cydonian at 12:49 AM on April 9, 2008


Insiduous undermining of free speech in a democratic country which has had reasonably free speech.

Insidious undermining? Or simply a cultural difference?

Why force the good people of Indonesia to accept a set of western colonialist rules for Internet use which insults their way of life and undermines their culture?

Should they not be free as a nation to decide for themselves how to use this machine without interference from web2.0 fascists?
posted by three blind mice at 12:49 AM on April 9, 2008


I've only been here for around 8 months, but from reading the papers almost everyday Indonesia strikes me as a country that is enjoying throwing off it's Suharto legacy and is proud of it's relatively free speech. Corruption is being zealously chased and Indonesia wants to be a modern country. Although it is the most populous Islam nation in the world, most people want religious tolerance and good links to other non-Islam countries. Only small areas such as Aceh (which is autonomous to some degree) are more orthodox in they way they implement Islamic law.
posted by BobsterLobster at 1:42 AM on April 9, 2008


Why force the good people of Indonesia to accept a set of western colonialist rules for Internet use which insults their way of life and undermines their culture?


I think it's fascinating how people regard the existance of viewpoints that they disagree with as somehow 'forcing' or 'coercing' people. If some Indonesian people think something undermines their culture or way of life, the answer is simple -- close down the browser. The alternative is to have a religious majority dictating what everybody else is able to read or see.

Or perhaps you think this works both ways? Perhaps you think that those in the west who feel that the ideas expressed by Islamists that insult their way of life and undermines their culture should have a similar right to silence the expression of their ideas too? Should we not be free as a nation to decide to do that?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:43 AM on April 9, 2008


I think that all in all the reaction to Fitna in the Islamic world so far was rather disappointing and almost tepid considering the brouhaha surrounding it up to its release.

Arguably this is because the film was not half as shocking as it purported to be. After all it is mostly an assembly of clips that everyone who has not been living in a cave has seen many times before. Note that the events portrayed by the film are more or less factual: Muslim extremists ARE chopping of heads, they ARE flying planes into buildings, they ARE raving with rage for the most nonsenical reasons. It's not like the stuff that is shown in Fitna was made up or staged (and please don't come with this non-issue of footage wrongly attributed to some hiphop artist nobody has heard of before anyway). So a rational reaction to the video by the extremists might even be to say "yeah, that's us, allright" and use it for the next Al Qaida propaganda video.

Instead, the film took pains not to be offensive to the core beliefs of Islam, e.g. when it pointed out that the sound of ripping paper was not actually caused by ripping a real Quran. In that sense, it was not radical at all and a much stronger reaction could have been caused by actually tearing up a real Quran or similar offense shown on film. In short, the reaction to the film was tepid, because it was only critical of Islam but not heretical.
posted by sour cream at 1:45 AM on April 9, 2008


Why force the good people of Indonesia to accept a set of western colonialist rules for Internet use which insults their way of life and undermines their culture?

Should they not be free as a nation to decide for themselves how to use this machine without interference from web2.0 fascists?


No matter how restrictive and oppressive a given culture is, there are always those who will defend its right to use whatever force it wishes against the members of it who dissent.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:16 AM on April 9, 2008


Mostly I agree with TBL, but I can't disagree more with what he just said.

Cultural difference is wonderful, I'm all for it. Provided that its cultural difference within the bounds of basic human rights. The extreme subjugation of women in most middle-eastern nations, for example, I don't think is a wonderful cultural difference but rather see as a horrible violation of human rights.

The spokes-thugs for the PRC can babble all day about how democracy, freedom, and not being kicked to death by the secret police for disagreeing with the ruler-thugs of the PRC are just Western imperial ideas and that its merely a cultural difference; it doesn't change the fact that no, it isn't.

If a culture depends on violating human rights to exist, it deserves to cease to exist.

I am a multiculturalist. I am not an imbicile, and I do not subscribe to the preposterous notion that all cultures are of equal worth. Those cultures which involve human rights violations are, quite simply, inferior to those which don't. The dread "Western Imperialist" culture is *better* than the shira culture. Its *better* than the Apartheid culture of South Africa. Its *better* than the fascist culture of China.

America, regrettably, seems to be eagerly rushing ever further into the realm of a culture based on human rights violations, and as it does its culture becomes inferior. My nation, regrettably, has never had a good record, human rights wise, internationally, or even internally for non-whites, but it does seem to be getting worse lately.

As for Indonesia and any other nation filtering the net, it sucks from any cultural standpoint. If the poor little religious loons can't stand free speech they can bloody well stay off the net instead of fucking it up for everyone else.
posted by sotonohito at 4:32 AM on April 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


where those in power think they know better than you

Where is it that those in power don't think they know better than you?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:46 AM on April 9, 2008


Dude your way off on the whole illusion of freedom thing. Seriously, we are way better off in America than anywhere else in the world. Instead of being 50% free as in some countries we are 90% free. As for not being able to say certain things, sure I agree with that. No one should be able to say FIRE in a public place in order to cause panic. That should be illegal. Same with saying things to make people want to riot. As for people removing you from their businesses for saying somethings, yes that is their right to have you removed. You don't owe the place... they do. Also guys with guns, if they have guns pointed at your head, maybe, just maybe you should shut your mouth and let the authorities handle it. What I don't think many of us understand is that you can never be completely 100% free to do whatever you want. That would lead to chaos, plain and simple. So in order to have certain securities we all collectively give up certain freedoms. For example I won't say mean, negative things in your place of business if you have the same respect for mine. This is known as social contract theory. Also if you can jump around saying whatever you please to whoever with no consequence then everyone else should be able to as well. That is how it works, or it should work. I agree that our system of doing things is not perfect but it is the best that is available so please feel free to exercise your freedom of speech whenever you feel like it. Because if you can say whatever then that means so can I.

that is all

Mastercheddaar
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:32 AM on April 9, 2008


The YouTube/MySpace stuff looks like a bit of a sideshow, and a story that's been flogged by a couple of wire services. Anti-porn bloviations have been a part of Indonesian tabloid reporting and political bluster for decades--every once in a while, some poor guy would get his picture in the paper for selling Playboy, then everything would go back to "normal" again. Note that anti-porn campaigns are a way for a politician to appear "religious" in a general, non-sectarian way in a country with five official religions.

The deeper story is about whether journalists--or bloggers--will have the ability to publish controversial stories about politicians or big businessmen without being threatened, and whether they'll have access to government information. More, more, and more.
posted by gimonca at 5:36 AM on April 9, 2008


Seriously, we are way better off in America than anywhere else in the world.

Pull the other one, mate.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:48 AM on April 9, 2008


Dude your way off

Seriously?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:10 AM on April 9, 2008


ZachsMind writes "If you put limitations on something - it AIN'T FREE!"

There's a number of points that help making a lot of confusion on the topic of freedom of speech and its effects.

Let's start from a working definition of unlimited speech : the possibility of saying anything at any time.

Let's add some hypothesis:

1) at some point in time speech is +- likely to elicit a reaction in listeners
2) the effects of this reaction may be complex and involve a number of persons

Example: "cry wolf" effect : some people keep on announcing the theatre is on fire, but there is no immediate evidence of that. At some point in time nobody believes the alarm anymore, not even when the theatre really is on fire. The predictable consequence is loss of lives , which some may see as the effective price paid for being able to say anything at any time.

But clearly, that's just not true. That's the likely effect of provoking an alarm in a particular circumstance. That doesn't prove that ANY speech at ANY time will lead to negative consequences or that necessarily some undesiderable outcome.

Yet the abovesaid example is used to give "unquestionable evidence" that there ought to be total control of speech, of ALL speech ant ANY time. Yet it just doesn't
follow that control of one kind of speech requires power of control on all speeches.

Furthermore, it is argued that the authority (church, government, the people in the shape of a populistic leader) should be able to assess what constitutes an undesiderable outcome and limit the speech to prevent damages ; yet as it possible to create the most unlikely, but possible scenarios of damage to something, then
one could very easily use the "preventive damage" justification to ban any kind of speech, arguing that waiting for the "smoking gun" is just too expensive to wait for undeniable evidence. Indeed, further proof is given by the suffering of the jews that could , in theory, have been prevented with a limitation to hate speech.

As you say, some people just want to be reassured and will easily trade off freedom of speech for a sense that something is being done to protect them and that's one of the problems of arguing for/against freedom of speech in terms of cost/consequences ; as many think and reasonably so and also intuitively so that nothing is worth losing life, any cost immediately appears insignificant, including losing speech.

Yet without a basic idea that speech ought to be free from restriction, people may not even bother thinking WHY they can't say something, as it would become normal and widely accepted that you just can't say anything, it would come as a "natural".

On Stern: ok he was kicked into satellite, even if he spins that he wasn't confined, but that it was his decision. Yeah right , he now can't bitch that much can he? But that's irrelevant. The point of prohibiting certain words, regardless of the traditional foundation of taboo on which they may rest, is that of creating a power entity able to dictate what ought not to be said ; once the popular perception of word "cock slurping" falls from taboo into "blah" it may be substituted with other wider concept such as "able to create alarm" or "favour terrorism" or "is unpatriotic".

Inherently speech doesn't cost zilch, its people who attribute cost to anything, but in doing so they may not perceive correctly how much it is important for speech to remain unrestricted.
posted by elpapacito at 6:10 AM on April 9, 2008


Seriously, we are way better off in America than anywhere else in the world.

Pull the other one, mate.


I defy anyone to name a country with greater freedom to express oneself than the United States. Despite our many flaws, this is an area where we have it much better than anywhere else on earth.
posted by Scoo at 6:31 AM on April 9, 2008


You don't have to defy me to name a country with better freedom of expression laws. You just have to ask. Regardless, I gladly accept your challenge.

Off the top of my head I knew for a fact that Norway, Switzerland and maybe Netherlands had better freedom of expression records - but I didn't know it was this bad.

So, here's a whopping 47 countries with better "freedom of expression" records than the United States. We're ranked #48 out of 169 ranked countries. Note that Taiwan is ranked further up the list. At the top? Iceland and Norway. Netherlands is 12th. Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland are all up there in the top ten.

But Estonia? Latvia? Surprising. Even more surprising? South Africa. Heck, even Israel has a better record than we do.

Here's a nice graphical map of the same data. Note that there are several African countries with far better records than ours.


Stop kidding yourselves. You're being self-delusional and irrationally nationalistic. Think with your head about these things and not your emotions. The US isn't the be-all, end-all of freedom and civil liberties. Hell, we didn't even invent them, as much as your public school history texts would try to convice you otherwise.

The US is almost halfway down the list. No, we're not yet Communist China or Soviet Russia, but we're closer to them than not in many ways.

You'd think people around here would learn to do a little homework before pulling bullshit out of their ass and presenting it to us as incontrovertible pearls of wisdom, what with the internet being like right there and everything. NEVER TAUNT MY GOOGLE SKILLS.
posted by loquacious at 7:35 AM on April 9, 2008 [9 favorites]


Is a "reasonably free press" the same thing as being "reasonably pregnant"?
posted by chunking express at 7:38 AM on April 9, 2008


You're being self-delusional and irrationally nationalistic.

How dare you. I defy anyone to name a country with greater freedom to express the belief that there is no country with greater freedom of expression than the United States than the United States.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:39 AM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not referring only to journalistic freedoms, I'm talking about everyone's freedoms. I don't regard Reporters Without Borders as the Be-All-and End-All on the subject as you seem to.

You mentioned Norway. Norwegians evidently aren't permitted to publish images of active genitalia in Norway. We can.

USA!
USA!
GEN!
I!
TALIA!
posted by Scoo at 8:41 AM on April 9, 2008


There are other countries with less restrictive pornography laws than the United States. I suspect that your definition of freedom of expression will turn out to be a rather woolly-headed moving target, which makes the whole exercise rather pointless.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:00 AM on April 9, 2008


So, here's a whopping 47 countries with better "freedom of expression" records than the United States. We're ranked #48 out of 169 ranked countries.

Well, seeing as Canada is ranked higher then the United States I can tell this list bullshit right out of the gate. Canada can, and does, jail and try people for expressing their beliefs so I hardly think they rank high on the "Freedom of Expression" scale.
posted by MikeMc at 9:13 AM on April 9, 2008


I don't know if the United States has the "most" freedom of expression of any country on earth, but freedom of expression is not commensurate with freedom of the press. The later is included in the former. Anyway, by the broader understanding of freedom of expression, I would imagine that the US would rank fairly high, at least higher than the many countries that have hate speech and other tolerance-based restrictions on speech. There is no magical metric which can be used to measure something like freedom of expression since it is not an easily quantifiable entity, but I would guess that the US, depsite its many faults, is doing pretty well on the freedom of expression/free speech front (although not as well lately).
posted by Falconetti at 9:29 AM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Canada can, and does, jail and try people for expressing their beliefs so I hardly think they rank high on the "Freedom of Expression" scale.

Canada doesn't rank particularly high, no.

How many active prisoners do we have, again?

How many of those are there for smoking or possessing pot?

How many of those are there for merely adovacating or researching psychedelics? (At least a few. Is Shulgin still in the clink?)


This whole argumental vector of "oh, well, at least we're not as bad as x" is self-defeatist and frustrating.

Oh, well, at least we didn't kill as many people as, oh, China. We can't be all that evil.

My main point is that we're not the "most free" country - that, no, the US is not the shining beacon of freedom that we think it is.

Sure, it's one hopeful point of light among many, and brighter than most - but (thankfully) we don't have a monopoly on civil rights or freedom of expression.

If you note the chronological aspect of the listing, there's a very large and alarming decrease in observed press freedom over the last 8 years. Pretty much coinciding with the Bush Administration.

Go figure.
posted by loquacious at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2008


All arguments about freedom of speech aside, can we please stop linking to this racist bull shit video?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:05 AM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are other countries with less restrictive pornography laws than the United States.

Well, I brought up Norway because my esteemed colleague loquacious claimed that he "knew for a fact that Norway, Switzerland and maybe Netherlands had better freedom of expression records" than the US. Rather than claim that he was pulling bullshit out of his ass and presenting it to us as incontrovertible pearls of wisdom, I decided to present evidence that his assertion was flawed, namely that USAians enjoys greater freedom of expression than Nowegians do, at least WRT viewing engorged genitals.

I suspect that your definition of freedom of expression will turn out to be a rather woolly-headed moving target, which makes the whole exercise rather pointless.

My original assertion was that US citizens enjoy unparalleled freedom to express themselves, and that it was an unalloyed good. You may disagree, but I see nothing "wooly-headed" about it. Insulting dismissals don't become you.
posted by Scoo at 10:10 AM on April 9, 2008


You may disagree, but I see nothing "wooly-headed" about it.

Falconetti sums it up nicely:

There is no magical metric which can be used to measure something like freedom of expression since it is not an easily quantifiable entity, but I would guess that the US, depsite its many faults, is doing pretty well on the freedom of expression/free speech front (although not as well lately).

It's perfectly reasonable to claim that the United States has a relatively high level of free expression; making a blanket statement that "this is an area where we have it much better than anywhere else on earth" or that "US citizens enjoy unparalleled freedom" is (1) impossible to prove and (2) a pointlessly juvenile way to phrase it. You come across like a "WE'RE THE BEST!!! USA #1!!!!!" adolescent.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:36 AM on April 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mr. Shanks, I disagree with your position, and with your condescending tone, and am leaving it at that.
posted by Scoo at 10:54 AM on April 9, 2008


I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Mr. Scoo has never lived outside of the US, possibly never set foot outside of North America, even.
posted by signal at 1:30 PM on April 9, 2008


Scoo, buddy, don't be that guy.

Nobody likes that guy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:44 PM on April 9, 2008


Bad form, MikeMc.
posted by chugg at 1:57 PM on April 9, 2008


Can we agree at least that the US is up there somewhere amongst pretty much all of the industrialised western countries on earth (plus some poorer developing countries) & leave it at that, without this turning into a pissing contest?

And that the pointlessly jingoistic claim that we are way better off in America than anywhere else in the world has been cast into some doubt by the Reporters Without Borders ranking? (even if it only relates to substantive freedom of the press, and not necessarily to formal constitutional & legal freedoms)

As an aside, it shouldn't be surprising for Latvia - and other former Soviet bloc countries - to rank highly for press freedom. There's nothing like living under a repressive colonial regime with strict press control for people to crave the ability to express themselves.

Remember that these countries have endured decades of underground presses, dissident literary circles, jailed & executed journalists & Pravda-style propaganda masquerading as news. It's actually quite natural that coming out of that situation, they should value free expression very highly, as opposed to countries that take free media for granted & have turned it mostly into a delivery mechanism for Idol, Fox, celebrity trials & tribulations, and banal infotainment in general.

Freedom of expression is meaningless, after all, if nothing is said.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:07 PM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


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