[Report] The Digital Rights Situation in Indonesia Had Worsened

The digital rights situation in Indonesia had worsened over the past year. This is illustrated in the Situation Report on Indonesia’s Digital Rights which was launched by SAFEnet on Friday (24/2) in Jakarta.

Citing a short story by writer AA Navis, The Collapse of Our Mosque, this year’s SAFEnet situation report is entitled The Collapse of Our Digital Rights. “It’s not just that we chose the title Collapse of Our Digital Rights as the title. Our year-long monitoring and analysis of the situation has shown this to be the case,” the report’s introduction reads.

The conclusion of this situation, according to SAFEnet, is based on four indicators in digital rights, namely the right to access the Internet, the right to freedom of expression, the right to feel safe, and online gender-based violence (KBGO).

First, in terms of Internet access. The increase in the number of Internet users in Indonesia, from 175 million in 2020 to 220 million in 2022, has not been followed by an increase in the quality of Internet services in this country. Indonesia is still facing Internet access problems in terms of speed, affordability, and equity.

When Internet access is still hampered in terms of infrastructure and equity, on the other hand the practice of cutting off access also continues to occur. One example occurred in Wadas Village, Bener District, Purworejo Regency, Central Java in February 2022. “The practice of cutting off or limiting Internet access is a bad example of violating the right to access the Internet as part of digital rights,” said Anton Muhajir, Coordinator of the research of SAFEnet Report.

This practice, Anton continued, is commonly used by authoritarian countries, such as Iran, China and Ethiopia. “The termination of Internet access at Wadas is part of digital repression,” he said.

Based on SAFEnet’s monitoring, throughout 2022 there have been internet access interruptions at least 36 times. Papua is still the region with the most internet access cut off, both for technical reasons, such as a broken underwater cable, or political matters, such as social conflict or sabotage by armed groups.

Second, freedom of expression in the digital space. Throughout 2022, there were at least 97 cases of criminalization against expression in the digital realm, with a reported number of 107 people. This number has tripled compared to last year of 30 cases with 38 victims of criminalization. This drastic increase also places 2022 as the year with the highest number of convictions in the last 9 years.

Look at the background of the victims of criminalization, it can be seen that this threat is dangerous to democracy. Activists (16 people) and students (11 people) are included in the list of the five most victims. Meanwhile, from the complainants, the majority were leaders of organizations or institutions representing groups or parties who felt their good name had been defamed.

“The collapse of digital rights looks even worse when you look at it from the right to safety,” Anton said.

The Internet safety is the third indicator. According to SAFEnet monitoring, during 2022, there were 302 digital security incidents. That is, on average there are more than 25 incidents per month. This figure has increased compared to the previous two years, namely 147 incidents (2020) and 193 incidents (2021).

The rise of digital attacks cannot be separated from the national and local political situation. In September 2022, there was a massive attack on the Twitter account of Mata Najwa, a journalist, media staff and former Narasi TV staff. Another incident was an attack on netizens protesting the blocking of access to several platforms, such as Paypal and Steam, in August 2022.

Digital attacks also occurred on at least 12 students who took part in an action in Jakarta in April 2022 rejecting the discourse on extending the presidential term to three times. Attacks on critical groups are still dominant. Activists, journalists, media and civil society organizations experienced the most attacks, accounting for 42.81 percent of the 326 victims of digital attacks in 2022.

In addition to digital attacks and personal data leaks, the collapse of digital rights can also be seen in the rise of OGBV. During 2022, there were 698 complaints, an increase of 21 cases compared to 2021.

According to Anton, one of the things to be concerned in OGBV cases is the increasing number of victims among children. In 2022, the number of children aged 12-17 who were victims of KBGO was 22.9 percent. When compared to the 2021 report which was only 8 percent, there is a significant increase for those reporting the age of children.

“Without strict law enforcement regarding the rise of digital attacks, data leaks, and KBGO, there will be more and more victims of digital rights violations. This has worsened the democratic situation in this country,” Anton concluded.

To read the report, you can download here.