Indonesia introduces new Internet censorship system

The Sudirman business district in Jakarta. Indonesia is set to implement a new $14 million Internet censorship.system. (Reuters)
Updated 05 January 2018
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Indonesia introduces new Internet censorship system

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry is set to implement a new $14 million Internet censorship system from Wednesday. The new system will automatically block pornography and other content deemed to be unsuitable by the government, following years of manual monitoring which has failed to adequately police the abundance of illicit online content.
The ministry’s Information Applications Director General Semuel Pangerapan said the machine is equipped with artificial intelligence that will crawl websites and use keywords to detect inappropriate content.
“After the content is crawled, our team will evaluate and verify the data,” Pangerapan told Arab News. “We will then block sites that are validated as carrying negative content. This machine will make our
jobs a lot faster.” The new system will enable the ministry to identify a range of negative content referencing topics from gambling, terrorism, fraud and drugs, to hoaxes and fake news, he added.
The ministry cooperates with related government agencies including the national counterterrorism agency (BNPT) to examine extremist material, and the national anti-narcotics agency (BNN) to detect content related to narcotics.
The new system began its trial run on Dec. 29, and reportedly crawled 1.2 million sites, detecting 120,000 with negative content, over the weekend. Pangerapan said the ministry has set a target of blocking access to at least 10 million out of an estimated 30 million websites with explicit content.
Pangerapan dismissed concerns that the government would use the new system to monitor citizens’ online activity, saying it was not designed for surveillance or for monitoring online conversation.
Jamalul Izza, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Internet Providers (APJII), told Arab News that pornographic websites rank first on the government’s list of negative content, followed by hoax and fake news.
Izza said APJII members have always complied with government requests to block access to certain websites. “This machine will make the system work better and faster,” he explained. A 2016 survey showed there were 132.7 million Internet users in Indonesia, which has a population of 256 million. As many as 129 million users used the Internet to access social media platforms, with Facebook being the most visited (71.6 million users).
Dedy Permadi, director of the Center for Digital Society at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, said the machine would be a good solution for the government in its attempts to block access to negative content.
In the past, he said, the most “worrying” content found was “pornography and online radicalism.” “The government detected and blocked websites that provided information on how to make bombs,” Permadi explained. He said the less-sophisticated technology that the ministry previously used had only managed to detect 700,000 sites with offensive content over the past few years, so the new system’s performance is a notable step up.


Former Pakistani PM Abbasi arrested by anti-graft agency

Updated 18 July 2019
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Former Pakistani PM Abbasi arrested by anti-graft agency

  • Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was arrested in a case over a liquefied natural gas terminal project
  • Arrest adds to a political scene already thick with accusations of corruption and abuse of office
LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency arrested former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday, drawing a furious response from opposition parties, which accused the government of trying to silence its opponents.
The National Accountability Bureau said in a statement Abbasi had been arrested in a case that was opened last year over a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project.
The arrest, as Abbasi was on his way to a news conference in the eastern city of Lahore, adds to a political scene already thick with accusations of corruption and abuse of office with opposition parties planning a day of protest next week.
“I believe today is yet another black day in Pakistan’s history,” Ahsan Iqbal, a senior parliamentarian from Abbasi’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, told reporters, accusing Prime Minister Imran Khan of trying to suppress opposition.
“We are not afraid of your fascist acts. Don’t think that you will gag our voices through such arrests,” he said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the head of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the other main opposition party, condemned Abbasi’s arrest which he said was part of a government “witchhunt” against elected representatives.
The PML-N was already engaged in a bitter standoff with Khan’s government, which came to power last year accusing Abbasi and his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, of large-scale corruption and mismanagement of the economy.
Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court in 2017 over accusations that eventually led to a seven-year jail sentence for receiving undeclared income. Abbasi took over as premier and served for less than a year before losing an election to Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in 2018.
The PML-N accuses the government of being behind Sharif’s arrest and last week produced video footage that it said showed the judge who heard the case confessing that he had been blackmailed to ensure a conviction.
The judge denied the accusation but was sacked from his position with the Accountability Court.
The government has rejected opposition accusations of using the National Accountability Bureau, an independent body, to suppress its critics and opponents.
It says corruption by past governments is the main reason for an economic crisis that has forced Pakistan to seek a $6 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund, its 13th IMF bailout since the 1980s.
Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry against Abbasi, Sharif and others “for granting a 15-year contract of LNG terminal to a company of their liking in violation of rules and by misuse of their powers, which caused national exchequer a loss of billions of rupees.”