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17 June 2010

Internet a risk to Indonesia says minister

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Indonesia's communications minister said Wednesday a celebrity sex video scandal showed the Internet was a threat to the nation and vowed to curb its use.

"We want to minimise the negative impact from the Internet as it will destroy this nation," Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, from the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), told AFP.

The mainly Muslim country has been titillated and scandalised by the appearance on the Internet of two explicit clips showing a popular local rock singer having sex with two models and television presenters.

The stars have claimed they are being defamed but have not denied it is them in the videos, amid a police probe that could see them jailed for lengthy sentences under a controversial anti-porn law passed in 2008.

Sembiring has condemned the celebrities and used the scandal to revive his ambitions to restrict access to morally suspect sites on the Internet, after an earlier plan was shelved due to widespread opposition.

He said the decree would be dusted off and issued soon after receiving the backing of lawmakers in the parliament's Commission I, which is in charge of communications and information affairs.

The decree would make it illegal to distribute or provide access to pornography or gambling services on the Internet, as well as anything that spreads religious hatred or threats, and any news deemed "misleading".

Web content which "humiliates the physical condition or abilities... of other parties" also could be blocked, along with anything which violated privacy by, for example, disclosing someone's educational background.

Sembiring said he would also implement a request from the commission to require all Internet cafes and schools to install software to filter websites with content listed as negative.

"This is very good... we will implement it soon," he said.

Critics say the measures have not been thought through and represent a throwback to the era of information control under the rule of military strongman general Suharto, who was ousted in 1998.


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