Indonesia adjusts the defamation penalties in its internet law

Indonesia adjusts the defamation penalties in its internet law

Indonesia has changed some of the requirements of its electronic information and transactions (ITE) law after critics complained of potential or actual misuse.

The revision to Indonesia's internet law includes tighter requirements for the all-important area relating to defamation. That means the law’s defamation provisions now require a stronger burden of proof in prosecutions. It also halves the maximum penalty for defamation from four years to two.

Human rights activists have long called for revisions to the 2008 law, which regulates defamation and online hate, arguing that some articles were vague and prone to misuse, threatening freedom of speech in what Reuters describes as the world’s third-largest democracy.

The news agency points out that in 2019, singer and opposition figure Ahmad Dhani was sentenced to a year in prison under the ITE law after calling political rivals ‘idiots’ in an online video.

Of course the question now is whether the revision does enough – and whether the decision on what constitutes defamation as opposed to reasonable comment is seen as protecting officialdom.

For example, Reuters notes that a pair of human rights activists who made a video discussing the findings of a report on the alleged involvement of military figures in the mining industry in Indonesia’s Papua province are currently being charged with defamation of a senior cabinet minister who is also a retired army general.

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