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Indonesia: Asia’s First ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Law Raises Press Freedom Issues

This provision may become a tool of the government… for censoring news, media and journalist publication

FILE - Indonesian youths browse their social media accounts at an Internet cafe in Jakarta, Indonesia. VOA

Jakarta, November 8, 2016: Two years after the European Union first asserted a person’s “right to be forgotten,” or the removal of objectionable search results, Indonesia has moved toward including a similar provision in its Internet law. If enforced, it would be the most stringent such measure in the world because it would target not just search results, but also original content.

Civil liberties activists and journalists are concerned about its implications in a country where censorship is steadily on the rise. It’s not the law itself that worries them, but omissions in its initial wording.

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“This new law doesn’t mention anything regarding freedom of the press,” Arfi Bambani, Secretary General of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, told VOA. “That’s why we think it could be a threat to press freedom. Anyone might request a court order, with impunity, to erase negative news about them in digital media.”

Whose right to be forgotten?

Article 26 of the revised Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) law would enable people to “request the deletion of published information if it is deemed to have become irrelevant,” according to the Jakarta Post. It’s aimed at criminals who were acquitted and want to clear their name. Many worry that it will be misused by politicians.

“This provision may become a tool of the government… for censoring news, media and journalist publication[s]” said Indonesia’s Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), in a statement.

The clause is one of several proposed revisions to ITE that passed in the House on October 27. Other topics that are addressed include cyberbullying and libel. Indonesia’s Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara ((EDS: one name)) suggested on Twitter that the amendments were essentially minor tweaks to modernize the ITE, which dates to 2008.

Since these are revisions and not a brand new law, the timeline for their enactment is greatly condensed, said Heru Sutadi, of the ICT Institute. Usually, it takes about two years for a law to go from draft to federal approval, but the revised ITE could apply within months.

Once the House finalizes the wording, all that’s left is for President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, to put it on the state record and it will immediately be in effect.

It’s disappointing that Parliament did not seek public opinion when drafting the revised ITE law, said Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono, ICJR’s executive director.

“The Parliament and the government blocked public access to the revision, and the whole discussion was private and confidential. That seems to have been intentional,” he told VOA. “Now it’s too late for the public to have any meaningful input.”

Doubts about application

One official who was involved in ITE deliberations claimed that “all internet content providers,” from newspapers to Google, would be forced to comply with the law. Google could not immediately be reached for comment.

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“We have to force [content providers] to comply with the law. If they neglect a court order to delist unwanted online stories, they have to be punished,” Henri Subiakto, a professor and staff member at the Communications and Information Ministry, told The Jakarta Post.

But experts are skeptical whether the government really has such capacity or ability.

“The criteria for deleting content are not precise,” Eddyono told VOA. “And the government’s authority is too broad to delete web sites. Plus, the procedure for doing so is still unclear in the legislation.” What’s more, he said, a court order to delete any content would not be legally binding.

The EU precedent

Another reason implementing the right to be forgotten would be difficult in Indonesia, as opposed to the European Union, is that Indonesia does not have strong protections on personal data, said Wahyudi Djafar, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM).

“The EU has good, strong regulations on data protection, and the right to be forgotten is interwoven into that framework,” he said. “Here, I suspect that content removal could be abused with impunity. I think Article 26 is protecting the Parliament’s political interests, not those of citizens or journalists.”

Djafar proposed the creation of an independent body to field content removal requests under Article 26, since the Indonesian courts “have problems with capacity in regulating technology.” He also hoped that the government would wait to enforce Article 26 until a federal personal data protection act, which is currently being drafted, passes into law, likely in 2017.

Still, Indonesian officials have cited the EU as inspiration for their own law.

A major milestone in the development of a right to be forgotten framework was a 2014 case in which a Spanish man petitioned Google to remove a link to an outdated article about his home foreclosure because he had since paid off the debt. The European Court of Justice ruled in favor of the man, Mario Costeja Gonzalez.

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“Seeing the Spanish man’s case, the right to be forgotten should be adopted in Indonesia,” said Subiakto, last week.

“But can a local court here really order Google to erase something?” wondered Bambani, of the journalists’ alliance. “I doubt it… that’s why we think the mind behind this law is not targeting companies like Google, but us, the local press and media. We worry that this will just be a way for politicians to erase their bad behavior from the record.” (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)