Partly Free
A Obstacles to Access 14 25
B Limits on Content 17 35
C Violations of User Rights 16 40
Last Year's Score & Status
49 100 Partly Free
Scores are based on a scale of 0 (least free) to 100 (most free). See the research methodology and report acknowledgements.

header1 Overview

The state of internet freedom in Indonesia declined during the coverage period, primarily due to the enforcement of Ministerial Regulation No. 5 of 2020 (MR 5/2020), which introduced a content moderation regime that threatens freedom of expression and user privacy. After setting a new deadline for compliance with the law’s registration rules in June 2022, the government temporarily blocked several platforms and websites that had failed to register. Meanwhile, government critics, journalists, and internet users continued to face criminal prosecution, violent attacks, and harassment in retaliation for their online activities. Internet access in the Papua region continues to be routinely disrupted.

Indonesia has made impressive democratic gains since the fall of an authoritarian regime in 1998, establishing significant political and media pluralism and undergoing multiple, peaceful transfers of power. However, major challenges persist, including systemic corruption, discrimination and violence against minority groups, conflict in Papua, and the politicized use of defamation and blasphemy laws.

header2 Key Developments, June 1, 2022 – May 31, 2023

  • Internet disruptions continued to occur in the Papua region, often in the context of activity by the security forces and other sensitive events (see A1 and A3).
  • In the summer of 2022, the government briefly blocked several international websites—including those of Yahoo, the gaming service Steam, and the payment processor PayPal—after they failed to meet new registration deadlines under MR 5/2020, a sweeping content-moderation law that forces platforms to take down a wide range of content and provide the government with access to user data, among other provisions (see B1, B3, and C6).
  • In December 2022, the parliament passed a new criminal code that stipulates harsh penalties for speech-related offenses including the dissemination of false information, insults, and the promotion of abortion (see B4 and C2).
  • There were fewer confirmed reports of state-sponsored content manipulation, which is usually spread by online commentators known as “buzzers,” than in past coverage periods (see B5).
  • Journalists and activists were violently attacked for their online activities; in one case, a bomb exploded in the vicinity of a journalist’s home (see C7).

A Obstacles to Access

A1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do infrastructural limitations restrict access to the internet or the speed and quality of internet connections? 3.003 6.006

Internet penetration in Indonesia has steadily increased, driven largely by rapid growth in the number of mobile subscriptions. The country’s low number of fixed-line subscribers stems from a lack of infrastructure, which limits coverage and keeps the price of monthly subscriptions high.

In February 2023, DataReportal reported that Indonesia’s internet penetration rate was 77 percent of the total population, with the number of internet users increasing by 8.2 million between 2022 and 2023.1 Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS), Indonesia’s central statistics agency, has reported a significant increase in internet penetration among households, with the rate rising from 57.33 percent in 2017 to 82.07 percent in 2021.2 The number of mobile phone subscriptions decreased from 370.1 million in 2022 to 353.8 million in 2023,3 due in part to recently enacted International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) registration rules (see C4).

Government projects are underway to improve internet infrastructure, especially in rural areas. 4 Although the main Palapa Ring project—a three-part network of broadband backbone infrastructure extending thousands of kilometers across the country—was completed in 2019, alleged funding and supply constraints have limited the development of additional base transceiver stations (BTS) that are necessary to support the project.5

The construction of 4,200 BTS sites, which was originally planned to be completed in March 2022, remains delayed amid alleged corruption involving the Telecommunications and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI).6 In May 2023, the government reported that only 957 out of the planned 4,200 BTS sites had been built.7

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo) announced plans to launch the SATRIA Satellite in the third quarter of 2023, with the aim of providing internet access to 150,000 public buildings, including hospitals, schools, and community centers, particularly in remote areas.8 In June 2023, after the coverage period, the satellite was successfully launched.9

The Geological Agency of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources reported 24 destructive earthquakes in Indonesia in 2022, some of which damaged telecommunications infrastructure.10 For example, after a November 2022 earthquake in Cianjur, mobile service providers reported disruptions at 118 Telkomsel BTS sites, 91 Indosat BTS sites, 63 XL Axiata BTS sites, and 12 Smartfren BTS sites,11 with some lasting for up to four days.12

Disruptions to submarine telecommunications cables and other such infrastructural problems are common, further complicating access to the internet.13 According to the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), at least 36 internet disruptions occurred in Indonesia in 2022,14 and 13 disruptions occurred in Papua between January and March 2023.15 SAFEnet research found that Papua remains a hotspot for infrastructure-related disruptions, especially when the government is conducting sensitive political, legal, and security activities in the region.16

A2 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Is access to the internet prohibitively expensive or beyond the reach of certain segments of the population for geographical, social, or other reasons? 1.001 3.003

Geographic disparities in internet access persist in Indonesia, with rural residents typically at a disadvantage, and the cost of service, particularly for fixed-line broadband, remains relatively high. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in 2022, a 5 gigabyte (GB) fixed-line broadband plan cost 6.13 percent of gross national income (GNI) per capita, and a 2 GB mobile broadband plan cost 1.1 percent of GNI per capita.1

Despite rising penetration rates and improved infrastructure, connectivity remains highly concentrated in the western part of the archipelago, particularly on the more urbanized island of Java. The disparity is evident in the information and communication technology (ICT) development statistics issued by BPS, according to which the country’s five eastern provinces received the lowest rankings in 2021.2 As of February 2023, 26.3 percent of the population lacked internet access,3 and 2,881 villages were not connected to the internet.4

In July 2022, leading mobile service provider Telkomsel began converting the vast majority of its third-generation (3G) networks to fourth-generation (4G) technology,5 completing the migration in May 2023.6 The process, which other telecom providers also undertook,7 presents a potential barrier to access for residents in villages without reliable 4G service and those who cannot afford new 4G-enabled devices.8 As of February 2022, Kominfo reported that 12,548 villages lacked 4G access.9

In 2021, Kominfo committed to allocating resources from the Universal Service Obligation Fund, which draws tax revenue from internet service providers (ISPs), to build internet infrastructure in rural and other underserved areas and subsidize internet access in eastern Indonesia.10

While some of the government’s internet infrastructure projects seek to narrow the geographical disparities in access, they have not always been successful (see A1).11 For example, in March 2022, police temporarily halted BTS construction in parts of Papua after Papuan independence groups killed eight people working on the East Palapa Ring project.12 In the same month, Kominfo indicated that it planned to continue development efforts, including by working with residents in conflict areas.13

Disparities in access also result from the high cost of internet subscription plans, particularly in eastern Indonesia.14 Affordable prepaid packages are not as widely available in underserved areas—such as Papua, Nusa Tenggara, and the Maluku Islands15 —as they are in more populous areas like Java, where Telkomsel faces more competition. Telkomsel also imposes higher prices in some provinces in eastern Indonesia based on the claim that the operational costs there are higher.16

There is a slight gender divide in internet use: according to 2021 data from BPS, 47.56 percent of internet users were women.17

A3 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does the government exercise technical or legal control over internet infrastructure for the purposes of restricting connectivity? 4.004 6.006

Internet connectivity has been restricted during religious events in order to “avoid and/or ward off hoaxes and negative content” online.1 In 2023, the government continued to restrict smartphone data packages and video streaming in Bali during the Hindu festival of Nyepi, the “day of silence.” Fixed-line connections, however, were not restricted. The government has suspended mobile connections during Nyepi since 2018.2 Connectivity was unreliable in Papua on several occasions during the coverage period, often in the context of security operations and other sensitive government activity in the region (see A1).3

Residents of the village of Wadas in Central Java Province reported connectivity disruptions for three days in February 2022 amid protests against a mine construction project. Members of parliament who visited the protests also reported restricted connectivity. Wadas protesters reported difficulty accessing their Twitter accounts that week, though it was unclear how this disruption was accomplished (see B8).4

In October 2021, the Constitutional Court rejected a lawsuit contesting the government's decision to restrict internet access in Papua during protests in 2019. The court upheld the use of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law to restrict connectivity, noting its procedural components.5 The ruling overturned a precedent set by the Jakarta State Administrative Court in June 2020, which held that the ITE Law should only be used to restrict online information or documents that are “unlawful,” not to terminate access in its entirety.6

Most BTS sites and other components of ICT infrastructure in Indonesia are built by private providers. As a result, the distribution of BTS sites largely reflects the market positions of the major players. The leading mobile provider is Telkomsel, a subsidiary of Telkom Indonesia—a majority state-owned company that dominates the telecommunications sector and is heavily involved in infrastructure development. Internet infrastructure in the country is otherwise decentralized, with several connections to the global internet.7

The first internet exchange point (IXP), the Indonesia Internet Exchange, was created by the Association of Indonesian Internet Service Providers (APJII) to allow ISPs to interconnect domestically. An independent IXP, Open IXP, was launched in 2005.8

In July 2022, the Pengelola Nama Domain Internet Indonesi (PANDI) and the APJII proposed the implementation of national Domain Name System (DNS) filtering technology, such as DNS Whitelist Nusantara and TrustPositif. This would enable the government to limit public access to certain types of content.9 Critics of the proposal likened it to China’s highly repressive filtering system, known as the Great Firewall.10

A4 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Are there legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles that restrict the diversity of service providers? 4.004 6.006

Connectivity is generally provided by large telecommunications companies, some of which are partially state-owned. However, in recent years, with increased demand, opportunities for other entities to enter the market have grown. The regulations governing entry are not excessively cumbersome, 1 though mergers may counteract the effects of competition from new providers.

As of May 2022, Kominfo had issued 2,612 telecommunications service licenses, 687 of which were ISP licenses.2 According to May 2023 data from the APJII, 864 ISPs were members of the association.3 The fixed-line market remains at an early stage of development, with only 14.5 percent of Indonesia’s internet users subscribed to fixed-line broadband as of 2022.4 The lack of existing infrastructure requires ISPs to invest heavily in development, so only major companies can compete in this sector. As a result, Telkom Indonesia has dominated fixed-line service.5

The mobile market is approaching saturation, and three providers serve roughly 90 percent of subscribers.6 As reported in May 2022, market leader Telkomsel, Telkom Indonesia’s mobile subsidiary, held 48 percent of the market, while Indosat Ooredoo accounted for 26.1 percent, and XL Axiata held 16 percent. Indosat Ooredoo merged with service provider Hutchison 3 Indonesia in January 2022, raising concerns about market concentration.7

A5 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do national regulatory bodies that oversee service providers and digital technology fail to operate in a free, fair, and independent manner? 2.002 4.004

Concerns have been raised about the independence of Kominfo, a government ministry, in its capacity as a regulator since the 2020 dissolution of the Indonesian Telecommunication Regulatory Body (BRTI).

The BRTI, a more independent regulator, had been established in 2003 to ensure fair competition among telecommunications providers, resolve industry conflicts, and develop standards for service quality. In 2018, the BRTI’s authority was expanded to cover not only infrastructure regulation, but also issues related to online platforms. In November 2020, however, the government decided to streamline the bureaucracy by dissolving the BRTI and transferring its responsibilities to Kominfo.1

The Directorate General of Posts and Informatics Operations (PPI) and the Directorate General of Informatics Application (Aptika) oversee internet services regulation under Kominfo. The PPI is responsible for regulating posts, telecommunications, and broadcasting, and its mandate includes supervising private telecommunications providers, regulating the allocation of frequencies for telecommunications and data communications, and issuing ISP licenses. Kominfo restructured Aptika in 2018, reorganizing departments responsible for regulation, management of domain names for government websites, digital economy functions, and blocking and content removal.2

B Limits on Content

B1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does the state block or filter, or compel service providers to block or filter, internet content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards? 2.002 6.006

Score Change: The score declined from 3 to 2 because the government temporarily blocked several platforms in the summer of 2022 after they failed to meet registration deadlines under Ministerial Regulation No. 5 of 2020.

Websites are frequently blocked for hosting what the government defines as “negative” content, a broad term used to describe material that is defamatory or that violates social or moral norms.1 In 2022, Kominfo ordered the blocking of 213,735 web pages, including 156,975 related to online gambling, 51,588 related to pornography, 1,887 related to online fraud, 1,266 pages that were identified as “negative” by government agencies, and a smaller number that were restricted for other reasons, including the spread of “fake news” and extremism.2 Previous data collected through OONI Probe Web Connectivity tests between January and June 2022 found that virtual private networks (VPNs), LGBT+ content, news media, and human rights content were also blocked, primarily through DNS hijacking.3

In July and August 2022, Kominfo blocked access to some major sites—including those of Yahoo, the gaming service Steam, and the payment processor PayPal—for several days. They were unblocked after they complied with registration requirements under MR 5/2020 (see B3).4

In June 2022, the government blocked the website and YouTube channel of Khilafatul Muslimin, an Islamist group that advocated for a caliphate, after authorities arrested the group’s leader and accused it of acting against national unity.5 The leader, Abdul Qadir Hasan Baraja, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in January 2023.6 Similarly, in May 2023, websites and blogs belonging to the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP), which had participated in protests that month marking the 60th anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of the Papua region, were also blocked under Article 40 of the ITE Law, which broadly allows restrictions on prohibited content.7

Kominfo stated that it had blocked 7,089 illegal online lenders on the recommendation of the Financial Services Authority (OJK) between 2017 and December 2022.8 In 2021, Kominfo blocked the platforms Snack Video, TikTok Cash, and VTube on the grounds that they engaged in financial and other services without OJK licensing.9 Pornography remains the most commonly blocked category of content, with nearly 1.1 million sites blocked between August 2018 and July 2021, according to Kominfo; 387,000 gambling sites were blocked in the same period.10 Kominfo blocked the LGBT+ dating apps Grindr and Blued in 2017 and 2018, respectively.11 The ministry confirmed that these apps were still blocked as of late 2020.12

Between 2016 and July 2020, the film and television streaming service Netflix was inaccessible to Telkom Indonesia and Telkomsel customers, despite the absence of a formal blocking notification from Kominfo.13 The ministry did not intervene when the provider first blocked Netflix in early 2016, claiming that the US-based company was operating without proper licensing and exposing users to violent and pornographic content. In January 2020, the Indonesian Consumers Protection Foundation urged Kominfo to force Netflix to remove negative content from its platform or otherwise block it.14 In July of that year, the service provider removed its blocking after Netflix agreed to fulfill some requirements, particularly regarding content and takedown requests.15

In July 2020, Kominfo stated that it planned to purchase more sophisticated technology to block more categories of negative content and websites.16 In January 2018, Kominfo launched Cyber Drone 9, a crawler system driven by artificial intelligence (AI) tools that is designed to proactively detect content violations. A specialized task force monitors the system and reviews the material it flags for blocking; the blocking itself is still carried out by ISPs. Each ISP may employ its own software for blocking and thus may deny access to additional sites at its own discretion.

B2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do state or nonstate actors employ legal, administrative, or other means to force publishers, content hosts, or digital platforms to delete content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards? 2.002 4.004

The government routinely requires platforms and content hosts to remove allegedly negative content posted by users.

According to Google’s transparency report covering January to June 2022, the Indonesian government sent 119 content removal requests covering 567 items; Google removed 86.6 percent of the content in question. In the second half of the year, the government issued 190 takedown requests concerning 1,995 items, and Google complied in removing 48.7 percent of them.1 The removal requests in 2022 mostly concerned “regulated goods and services,” privacy and security, and hate speech. Meta restricted access to 1,458 items based on requests from Kominfo in the first half of 2022, primarily concerning misinformation about COVID-19, “violations related to regulated goods,” and blasphemy. The company removed 42 items that fell into categories such as terrorist content or antigovernment speech.2 Twitter, later rebranded as X, did not produce a removal report during the coverage period.

In the second half of 2022, the short-video platform TikTok received 2,713 requests for content and account removal from the Indonesian government,3 and it removed more than 8.2 million videos from Indonesia while enforcing its own community guidelines.4 Reuters reported that between 2018 and mid-2020, ByteDance—the China-based owner of TikTok—censored Indonesian content on its news aggregator application, BaBe, that featured “negative” information about the Chinese government.5

In August 2021, Kominfo requested the removal of 20 YouTube videos and one TikTok video uploaded by Muhammad Kece, a former Muslim who regularly criticized Islam, on the grounds that they contained blasphemy.6 Kece was later arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison (see C3). In September 2021, Kominfo requested that YouTube remove a video deemed to promote LGBT+ content on YouTube Kids.7 Also that month, Kominfo announced that it was streamlining procedures for reporting content to social media companies by coordinating with other government agencies.8

Kominfo has demanded that some applications be removed entirely from app stores, or that certain pieces of content be blocked. In March 2021, the illegal app Snack Video was removed from Google’s app store on the request of Kominfo (see B1).9 In January 2020, the ministry announced that it had blocked 1,085 financial-technology apps from the Google app store in 2019, and 1,356 similar apps from other app stores.10

In January 2023, ahead of the February 2024 general elections, the General Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) formed a social media monitoring task force consisting of Bawaslu personnel, the General Elections Commission (KPU), Kominfo, and the Indonesian National Police's cyber team.11 The task force aimed to monitor social media and order the takedown of any content deemed to contain hoaxes or to exacerbate polarization (see B2 and C5).12

In February 2021, the Criminal Investigation Department of the Indonesian National Police launched a Virtual Police program to monitor social media and chat apps for hoaxes and incitement. As of April 2021, the program reportedly sent warnings to remove content to 200 social media accounts that allegedly posted hate speech and potentially infringed on Article 28(2) of the ITE Law.13 A civil society organization, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), reported that the warnings were mostly directed toward active critics of the government, and users immediately deleted content that was flagged.14

Platforms that do not remove banned content risk being blocked entirely. For example, Tumblr was blocked in March 2018, then unblocked that December after removing “adult content.”15

B3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do restrictions on the internet and digital content lack transparency, proportionality to the stated aims, or an independent appeals process? 1.001 4.004

Regulations that grant the government the ability to restrict online content are largely not grounded in democratic principles and procedures. Research from the civil society organization Article 19 has found that opaque content moderation practices undermine user trust and may drive government regulation.1

Amendments to the ITE Law in 2016 strengthened the legal foundation for blocking content and limiting internet access.2 Under Article 40 of the amended law, Kominfo can directly prevent access to online content, or order ISPs to do so.3 Article 26 of the amended law also established a “right to be forgotten” for Indonesian citizens, whereby electronic system providers, such as Google, are required to delete irrelevant information about an individual on Kominfo’s request. The ministry, however, needs to provide a court order. Critics warned that Article 26 could hamper the public’s right to information.4

A 2014 decree under the ITE Law expanded official powers to allow the blocking of negative content on websites.5 A separate statute provides a legal framework for blocking content that is considered pornographic.6 The precursor of the amended ITE Law, Kominfo’s Regulation No. 19 of 2014 on Control of Websites Containing Negative Content, set technical guidelines for blocking web content. However, it did not establish transparency and accountability in blocking procedures.7

MR 5/2020, which took effect in November 2020 (see B1 and C6),8 requires private scope electronic system operators (PSEs)—defined as any foreign or domestic entity that operates electronic systems for Indonesian users—to ensure that their systems do not contain or facilitate any content that violates domestic law, creates community anxiety, or disturbs public order. After receiving a notice from Kominfo to remove prohibited content, PSEs have 24 hours to comply, or just four hours in “urgent” situations. PSEs that fail to remove prohibited content will be fined or blocked (see B6). In May 2021, MR 5/2020 was amended by Ministerial Regulation No. 10 of 2021 (MR 10/2021), adding an obligation for PSEs to register with the government within six months of the launch of a designated online system.

In June 2022, Kominfo announced that PSEs would have to register under MR 5/2020 within one month.9 In July 2022, after the deadline had passed and major PSEs including Amazon, Yahoo, Bing, Steam, and PayPal were still unregistered, Communications Minister Johnny G. Plate warned that unregistered platforms would be blocked.10 Several platforms were then briefly blocked, with the restrictions lifted after the companies came into compliance (see B1). In November 2022, the Legal Aid Institute Jakarta and Digital Freedom Advocacy sued Kominfo in the Jakarta State Administrative Court over enforcement of the law, claiming that it harmed users and relied on an “overly broad” legal interpretation.11

In early 2022 the government formulated a system of potential fines under MR 5/2020 for platform owners that fail to comply with content removal requests within 24 hours of a takedown notice, or within four hours for "urgent" situations; the affected operators would face fines of as much as $33,000 per violation.12 The proposal outlined specific fines based on a company’s gross revenues, its compliance rate, and the content type.13 Representatives from social media companies who attended meetings with KomInfo in August 2022 raised concerns that the definition of “unlawful” content was overly broad.14 The system of fines had not yet entered into effect at the end of the coverage period.

Kominfo shares the total number of blocked websites through official press briefings but does not provide further details on which sites are restricted and why. Four multistakeholder panels, established by the ministry to respond to public complaints about arbitrary and nontransparent blocking, completed their terms in 2015 and were not renewed.15 In addition to Kominfo, several other government agencies restrict online content under the ITE Law, including the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN).16

B4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do online journalists, commentators, and ordinary users practice self-censorship? 2.002 4.004

The government’s broad definition of negative content that can be blocked or removed and its intensifying pursuit of legal penalties for online activity contribute to an environment of self-censorship among journalists and ordinary users alike.1 Many social media users have expressed their fear of the ITE Law. According to an April 2022 survey from Indikator Politik Indonesia, 62.9 percent of respondents thought that today’s society is increasingly afraid to express opinions.2 A new criminal code adopted in December 2022 threatens to motivate self-censorship through its provisions on spreading false information, treason, and insulting the president, among other speech-related offenses (see C2).3

Increased online harassment, prosecutions, and technical attacks against journalists, activists, and news outlets also deter free expression and information sharing (see C7 and C8). Civil society organizations have raised concerns that the Virtual Police program will drive more users to practice self-censorship (see B2).4

Authorities have stepped up their practice of suppressing online discourse that is critical of the government by labelling it as hate speech, which could limit the willingness of journalists and users to challenge political leaders online.5

As the country prepared for general elections set for early 2024, digital rights experts warned that a proliferation in harassment by networks of paid commentators, or “buzzers” (see B5), may further incentivize self-censorship on political topics.6

B5 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are online sources of information controlled or manipulated by the government or other powerful actors to advance a particular political interest? 2.002 4.004

Score Change: The score improved from 1 to 2 because reports indicated that content manipulation, often carried out by paid commentators known as “buzzers,” decreased compared with previous coverage periods.

Coordinated manipulation of online content by the government, its allies, and other political actors has distorted the information landscape over the past decade. Manipulated content and disinformation, which has spread online since the 2014 presidential election, continues to proliferate, particularly during moments of political tension or emergencies, such as protests and the COVID-19 pandemic.1

Research released in November 2021 indicated that political and economic elites, including figures associated with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party, continued to manipulate public opinion on social media through paid commentators, or “buzzers.” The research found that some buzzers were paid between 2 million and 7 million rupiah ($130 and $450) per campaign.2

Paid commentator networks manipulate trending topics and hashtags on Twitter, often to suppress hashtags that appear organically. After the passage of the new criminal code in December 2022 (see C2), a pattern of progovernment posts proliferated under the hashtag #KUHPUntukKemajuanIndonesia, or “Criminal Code for Indonesian Progress.”3 In April 2022, the antigovernment #MahasiswaBergerak (“students on the move”) hashtag and the progrovernment #SayaBersamaJokowi (“I’m with Jokowi [President Joko Widodo]”) hashtag became prominent as students protested the potential postponement of the 2024 general elections; both may have been supported by automated accounts.4

Previously, reports from the Oxford Internet Institute released in 2019 and 2020 had identified Indonesia as a country where buzzers and automated accounts manipulate information on social media on behalf of political parties and private contractors.5

Indonesia Corruption Watch, a think tank, reported in 2020 that the government had budgeted 90 billion rupiah ($5.7 million) to hire buzzers to promote the government’s policies.6 In October 2019, researchers at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute discovered a network of automated “bot” accounts based in Jakarta that distributed progovernment propaganda in Papua via multiple social media platforms and websites.7 Facebook and Twitter closed the accounts in question.8

In June 2022, the chairman of Bawaslu announced a social media task force that would surveil and prosecute political buzzers and counter disinformation more broadly ahead of the 2024 elections (see B2 and C5).9 Experts raised concerns that information manipulation could increase ahead of the balloting.10

A network of online news sites has also been utilized by political actors to spread propaganda. In January 2020, Reuters journalists discovered that the military was operating and funding a network of 10 news sites that published progovernment propaganda while criticizing dissidents and human rights advocates.11 Among their tasks was to mobilize support for the government’s response to 2019 Papua protests, including the state’s use of violence (see A3 and B8).

B6 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Are there economic or regulatory constraints that negatively affect users’ ability to publish content online? 1.001 3.003

Users do not face significant economic and regulatory barriers to publishing content online. However, financial sustainability concerns and registration requirements aimed at combating “prohibited online content” have created constraints on publishing.

Under MR 5/2020, all PSEs must register their systems with Kominfo (see B3).1 The law also requires PSEs based abroad to appoint a local liaison, and it allows the government to revoke companies’ registration and licenses if they do not provide electronic information, data, and system access to the authorities for monitoring and law enforcement purposes (see C6).

In February 2023, the government announced that it was drafting a regulation that would compel platforms and aggregators to pay news outlets for their content.2 At a National Press Day celebration that month, President Joko Widodo—widely known as Jokowi—instructed stakeholders to complete the draft within one month.3 The Press Council submitted the draft regulation to the president in March 2023, which will be finalized by the Kominfo.4 However, it had not moved any further in the legislative process as of the end of the coverage period.

Journalists from the Papua region often face economic constraints.5 In November 2022, the news site West Papua Media shut down because it was unable to cover its infrastructure costs.6 The outlet had previously suspended operations in 2018 for financial reasons before resuming in November 2020, after crowdfunding efforts generated enough money to support the digital security of its journalists.7

To combat online misinformation, the Press Council, an independent body, has created a verification process designed to help readers identify reliable media outlets. As of March 2023, there were 1,723 administratively verified media companies.8 Some media groups have criticized the verification process as effectively an extralegal form of registration,9 warning that such registration requirements threaten the existence of smaller alternative media outlets.10

B7 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the online information landscape lack diversity and reliability? 3.003 4.004

While Indonesia’s online information landscape remains diverse, concentrated ownership has limited the variety of content and viewpoints available in national and local media.

In 2019, approximately 47,000 media outlets operated online.1 However, the owners of some major media outlets are actively involved in politics, contributing to increasingly partisan online news. At the local level, many online outlets have become extensions of certain political parties, hampering their credibility.

Social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram are now key sources of news, which has significantly eroded the market position of mainstream media.2 Indonesia is also home to a thriving blogosphere. Members of the growing urban middle class are fervent users of social media and communication apps, and local blog and website hosting services are either free or inexpensive.

Tools to circumvent online censorship are largely accessible, and Indonesia is considered one of the world’s largest markets for VPN services.3 However, research conducted in 2022 found that 36 websites providing anonymization and circumvention tools had been blocked (see B1).4 These resources continued to be blocked at the end of the coverage period.

In response to the increase in manipulated content and misinformation online, more than 20 local media outlets and journalists’ associations launched a fact-checking initiative, Cek Fakta, in May 2018.5 In November 2022, the Indonesia Fact-Checking Summit 2022 served as an information-sharing and collaboration forum for fact-checkers ahead the 2024 general elections.6

B8 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do conditions impede users’ ability to mobilize, form communities, and campaign, particularly on political and social issues? 4.004 6.006

Platforms and websites that facilitate social and political mobilization were largely available during the coverage period, and Indonesians regularly employ such tools to call on the government to change its policies and practices. However, online threats and harassment of protesters and others who use the internet to organize have constrained digital activism to some extent (see C7).

Despite frequent restrictions on connectivity in Papua, users across Indonesia have been able to mobilize online in recent years. Social media users have amplified protesters’ messages online and signed online petitions,1 while others have crowdfunded to support demonstrations.2 is particularly popular in Indonesia; in 2021, more than 18.8 million users signed petitions on various social issues, including child protection and environmental concerns.3 Pressure from petitions that year likely contributed to the military’s abolition of “virginity tests” for women recruits, a presidential amnesty for a professor imprisoned under the ITE Law, and the accreditation of low-paid teaching staff.4

Although protesters have successfully used online mobilization tools to advocate for change, some face pushback on their activism. For example, in May 2023, after the AMP protested to mark the 60th anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of the Papua region, websites and blogs affiliated with the movement were blocked (see B1).5 In November 2022, during a Group of 20 summit in Bali,6 civil society organizations canceled online meetings under government pressure; in one such case, Indonesia had to cancel online workshops concerning climate change.7

Residents of Wadas who had opposed a mine construction project in their area for several years launched a series of protests in early 2022, using social media to mobilize support and build awareness. In response, authorities restricted connectivity during a police response in February 2022 (see A3). Wadas protesters reported difficulty accessing their Twitter accounts that week, though it was unclear how authorities limited access.8 Separately, in 2020, several individuals who participated in or coordinated protests against a controversial omnibus law were reportedly doxed in reprisal for their activism.

C Violations of User Rights

C1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do the constitution or other laws fail to protect rights such as freedom of expression, access to information, and press freedom, including on the internet, and are they enforced by a judiciary that lacks independence? 2.002 6.006

Freedom of expression, including online, is nominally protected by the constitution and other laws, but the right is frequently curtailed in practice. The Law on Human Rights, which was adopted shortly after the country’s 1998 transition to democracy, guarantees freedom of expression and other fundamental rights; these protections were strengthened by the Second Amendment to the constitution passed in 2000. The Third Amendment guarantees freedom of opinion.1 The constitution also includes the rights to obtain information and communicate freely,2 and these are further protected by various laws and regulations.3 Indonesia ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2005.4

However, the constitution features language allowing the state to limit rights based on political, security, moral, and religious considerations.5 This wording provides policymakers with ample room for interpretation.6 The authorities’ limited respect for the legal framework guaranteeing freedom of expression is illustrated by the frequency of prosecutions for online activity, as well as disruptions to internet connectivity and blocking of social media platforms.

C2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are there laws that assign criminal penalties or civil liability for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards? 1.001 4.004

Several laws impose criminal and civil liability for online activity. A newly adopted revision of the criminal code, known by the abbreviation RKUHP, has criminalized a wide swath of expression-related actions, including those that should be protected under international human rights standards.

The parliament passed the RKUHP in December 2022, imposing penalties for offenses including insulting public authorities and institutions; writing, promoting, or broadcasting information about contraceptives or abortion; spreading information about or associating with communism; distributing false or inaccurate information; and defamation.1 The law also expands the 1965 Blasphemy Law to include six broad provisions on religion-related speech, including the criminalization of attempts to persuade a person to be a nonbeliever in a religion.2 Critics including Indonesia’s Press Council argued that the new code could be used to punish critical journalism.3

Individuals who insult the president and vice president face a maximum of five years in prison and fines of up to 200 million rupiah ($13,000) under the RKUHP. Those who insult public authorities and institutions face a maximum of three years in prison and fines of up to 200 million rupiah ($13,000). Individuals who write, promote, or broadcast information about contraceptives or abortion face up to six months in prison and a fine of 10 million rupiah ($640). Individuals can face up to four years in prison for spreading information about communism, and up to 10 years for “associating” with communism. Those found guilty of distributing false or inaccurate information face up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of 500 million rupiah ($32,000). Individuals found guilty of defamation face up to nine months in prison and a maximum fine of 10 million rupiah ($640), while those found guilty of libel face up to three years and a fine of 200 million rupiah ($13,000),4

Provisions of the 2008 ITE Law have been used repeatedly to prosecute Indonesians for online expression. The law’s penalties for criminal defamation, hate speech, and inciting violence online are disproportionately harsh compared with those already established by the criminal code for similar offline offenses.5 Amendments to the ITE Law in 2016 expanded the scope of defamation to include content published unintentionally or by third parties, for instance through the tagging of Facebook posts with another user’s name.6 Private chat messages can also be considered violations, as the offense of “transmitting” defamatory content applies even when only one person receives the content. The article in question also broadly covers “all acts other than distributing and transmitting” that make the content accessible to others, exposing more users to prosecution. The maximum penalties for online defamation were lowered from six years in prison to four, and from a fine of 1 billion rupiah ($64,000) to 750 million rupiah ($48,000), but these penalties remained harsher than most offline defamation sentences.7

In June 2021, the government issued guidelines for implementing the ITE Law that aimed to narrow the scope of defamation and insult charges and introduce protections for media organizations.8 The guidelines do not appear to be consistently applied by local law enforcement bodies.9 Civil society groups noted that guidelines were not a sufficient substitute for direct revisions to the law.10

In June 2021, President Jokowi announced that he would revise articles of the ITE Law related to prohibited online content and add an additional article addressing “false information that troubles society.”11 The draft articles, which included a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 10 billion rupiah ($640,000) for “intentionally disseminat[ing]” information deemed false, are broad and vulnerable to misuse.12 In February 2023, the government proposed amendments to seven articles of the ITE Law, including new articles that would penalize people who spread documents or content with fake information,13 but the draft legislation had not passed by the end of the coverage period.

In April 2020, the National Police issued a directive allowing officers to charge individuals under the criminal code for spreading COVID-19 misinformation online. The directive also instructed police to charge users for online activities that insult the president and government authorities under the ITE Law.14

Other laws infringe on user rights. The 2008 Antipornography Law uses a loose definition of pornography, enabling bans on many forms of legitimate artistic and cultural expression.15 The 2011 State Intelligence Law prescribes penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and large fines for revealing or disseminating “state secrets.”16 This legal framework provides authorities with a range of powers to penalize internet users, though they are not all regularly invoked in practice.

C3 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Are individuals penalized for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards? 2.002 6.006

Users frequently face civil and criminal penalties for legitimate online activities. According to SAFEnet, in 2022 there were 97 criminal cases concerning online activities, involving 107 people. These figures represent a sharp increase from 2021, when SAFEnet recorded 30 cases involving 38 people.1

In April 2023, the Solo City District Court in Central Java sentenced Sugi Nur Rahardja to six years in prison for disseminating hate speech and blasphemy. He was charged under the ITE Law and the criminal code over a podcast he posted on YouTube in which he claimed that Jokowi’s diploma was forged.2

In April 2023, authorities in East Jakarta District opened a case against activists Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti because of a 2021 podcast uploaded to YouTube in which they alleged that the military had conducted illegal operations in Central Papua to “protect mining interests” linked to Luhut Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for maritime and investment affairs. After Luhut filed a defamation suit in 2021,3 the activists were charged with “defamation under the Criminal Code, slander under the Internet [ITE] Law, and ‘spreading false news’ under the 1946 False News Law, which carry maximum prison terms of 9 months, 4 years, and 10 years respectively,” according to Human Rights Watch.4

In March 2023, the Kepanjen District Court in East Java sentenced Dian Patria Arum Sari to four months in prison and eight months of probation under the ITE Law. She was charged with spreading defamatory and insulting information after she used a 2019 Facebook post to accuse an acquaintance, with whom she had previously done business, of committing fraud.5

In December 2022, the West Jakarta District Court sentenced former youth and sports minister Roy Suryo to nine months in prison because he posted a meme mocking the president. He was charged under the ITE Law, and the prosecution announced that it would appeal the decision to seek a longer sentence.6

In November 2022, Gusti Ayu Dewanti, an OnlyFans creator, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined 300 million rupiah ($19,000) for her content on the platform, which the court ruled was in violation of the ITE Law and the Antipornography Law. She was charged after she appeared on a podcast and discussed her income from OnlyFans.7

In September 2022, the Central Jakarta District Court sentenced activist Edy Mulyadi to seven and a half months in prison for allegedly spreading fake news through a YouTube video in which she criticized the Indonesian government’s proposed relocation of the capital from Jakarta to Nasantara on the island of Borneo. The sentence was equivalent to the amount of time she had served in pretrial detention.8

In August 2022, the Makassar District Court sentenced influencer Dimas Adipati to 18 months in prison and a fine of 25 million rupiah ($1,600) for violating Article 27(1) of the ITE Law by allegedly disseminating LGBT+ and pornographic content on Instagram.9

In April 2022, a court convicted YouTuber Muhammad Kece of spreading false information and sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment. Kece, who had converted from Islam to Christianity and regularly criticized his former religion, was first arrested in August 2021 over videos that Kominfo deemed to be blasphemous (see B2).10

In November 2021, Muhammad Asrul, a journalist with, was found guilty of violating Article 27 of the ITE Law, which punishes defamation, and was sentenced to three months in prison.11 Asrul was detained for a 36-day period in January and February 2020 after being arrested for defamation as well as alleged hate speech under Article 28 of the ITE Law; he had written three news articles about corruption allegations involving the son of Palopo’s mayor.12

C4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the government place restrictions on anonymous communication or encryption? 3.003 4.004

Anonymous communication is somewhat restricted but not formally prohibited by law. Users have access to encrypted services, though some Kominfo policies and other regulations have indicated the government’s interest in gaining backdoor access to encrypted communication and personal data.

Since 2005, Kominfo has nominally required mobile phone users to register their phone numbers with the government by text message when they buy a phone. This rule was widely ignored for years, but in 2017, Kominfo introduced a new regulation requiring SIM card users to register by submitting their national identity numbers and their family registration numbers, thereby limiting anonymity.1 Beginning in late February 2018, failure to comply with this requirement could lead to the temporary blocking of data services to the unregistered SIM cards. If users fail to register within 15 days of the block’s initiation, the SIM cards can be permanently blocked from any telecommunications services. In 2020, the government announced a plan to roll out the use of biometric data for SIM card registration in 2021,2 but there were no updates on the implementation of this plan during the coverage period.

The government mandates IMEI registration for devices purchased outside of the country. Since April 2020, unregistered devices have been prevented from connecting to networks.3

C5 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does state surveillance of internet activities infringe on users’ right to privacy? 2.002 6.006

Government surveillance of online activities limits the right to privacy. Although this right is constitutionally guaranteed, no specific law stipulates its protection.

Article 40 of Law No. 46 of 1999 on Post and Telecommunication prohibits the interception of information transmitted through any form of telecommunications.1 However, at least 10 other laws, including the ITE Law and seven executive regulations, allow certain government or law enforcement agencies to conduct surveillance.2 The agencies in question range from the National Narcotics Board and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).3 The laws do not clearly define the scope of interception, despite a 2010 Constitutional Court decision that requires government agencies to have detailed and regulated interception procedures.4 The legal framework also fails to provide for judicial or parliamentary oversight of surveillance activity and remedies for those who allege abuse.

The 2016 amendments to the ITE Law revised some provisions governing interception in response to the 2010 Constitutional Court decision, introducing penalties for interception conducted outside the context of law enforcement. The government indicated that further details concerning interception procedures would be addressed in future regulations.5

In May 2018, the parliament adopted amendments to the 2003 Eradication of Criminal Acts of Terrorism Law (CT Law) that gave authorities sweeping surveillance powers to fight terrorism, which is broadly defined. Article 31 permits security officials to “intercept any conversation by telephone or other means of communication suspected of being used to prepare, plan, and commit a criminal act of terrorism.”

Authorities monitor social media platforms. In preparation for the 2019 elections, Kominfo created a “war room” in October 2018 that employed 70 engineers tasked with monitoring social media platforms in real time.6 Kominfo reported that it would “take action” if it found that users had violated the ITE Law. In January 2018, the BSSN reportedly began to formalize its response to cyberthreats, which included a social media program.7 Ahead of the 2024 elections, Bawaslu formed a social media task force to monitor content and false information, which could raise surveillance concerns (see B2 and B4).8

Reports have linked authorities to the purchase and use of spyware and other sophisticated surveillance tools. Government officials and agencies have also been targeted with these tools.

A March 2023 report by Citizen Lab, a research center at the University of Toronto, found that QuaDream, an Israeli spyware company, had attempted to sell its products to the Indonesian government.9

In September 2022, Reuters reported that several high-ranking government and military officials in Indonesia were allegedly targeted in 2021 with FORCEDENTRY, a tool developed by the Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group to attack targets with its Pegasus spyware. Apple notified the officials in November 2021 that they had been targeted by this mechanism, which enables attackers to gain full access to iPhones.10 In June 2023, after the coverage period, reports emerged that government agencies, including the BIN, have used Pegasus spyware to surveil opposition politicians and activists.11

In December 2021, Citizen Lab identified the Indonesian government as a likely customer of Cytrox, which sells the Predator spyware tool.12 Citizen Lab reported in December 2020 that Indonesia had likely purchased Circles spyware technology.13 The Indonesian government has reportedly used FinFisher spyware, which collects data such as Skype audio, key logs, and screenshots;14 international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) catchers purchased from Swiss and British companies;15 and surveillance products from the US-Israeli company Verint to track LGBT+ rights activists and members of religious minorities.16

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officials rolled out the application PeduliLindungi (Care Protect), which pulled location data—using Bluetooth proximity tracking—to facilitate contact tracing and allowed users to register for and obtain certification of their vaccinations.17 The app had 105 million registered users.18 In March 2023, the Ministry of Health rebranded the application as SatuSehat (One Health), explaining that it would shift to offering more general health services.19

C6 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does monitoring and collection of user data by service providers and other technology companies infringe on users’ right to privacy? 3.003 6.006

Score Change: The score declined from 4 to 3 because the government began enforcing key provisions of a 2020 law that compels platforms to provide the government with access to user data.

Several laws support the government’s ability to access personal data held by private companies. Governmental Regulation No. 71 of 2019 (PP 71/2019) states that only data related to government administration, defense, and security are subject to data localization requirements;1 it replaced a previous regulation that required electronic system providers that offer “public services” to build local data centers.2 MR 5/2020, which the government began enforcing through registration deadlines and temporary blocking in June 2022,3 mandates that PSEs provide authorities with “direct access” to their systems and users’ personal data when requested, for monitoring and law enforcement purposes. Any electronic system operators whose digital content is used or accessed within Indonesia must also appoint an in-country representative to respond to content removal and personal data access orders (see B1, B3, and B6).4

In October 2022, the president signed the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Law.5 The measure outlines protections for users’ personal data, including the right to consent, and calls for a data protection authority (DPA), which will enforce the law once it is created. The PDP Law also sets criminal penalties of up to six years in prison for illegal data collection and illegal creation of false data.6 Critics have raised concerns that the DPA will not be sufficiently independent, since it falls under the authority of the president. They have also warned that the relatively weak sanctions for public-sector misuse of data will not prevent government agencies from engaging in such behavior.7 The DPA had yet to be formed at the end of the coverage period.8

Some international companies store user data domestically.9

A 2016 Kominfo regulation stated that personal data must be encrypted if they are stored in an electronic system,10 though a separate ministry directive stated that over-the-top (OTT) service providers must allow legal data interception for law enforcement purposes, raising concerns about the security of encryption.11 Moreover, a government regulation issued in 2000 requires telecommunications providers to retain records of customer usage for at least three months.12 Some companies have complied with law enforcement agencies’ requests for data.

C7 1.00-5.00 pts0-5 pts
Are individuals subject to extralegal intimidation or physical violence by state authorities or any other actor in relation to their online activities? 2.002 5.005

Score Change: The score declined from 3 to 2 because a bomb exploded near the home of a journalist who covers the Papua region, and other journalists faced violent attacks.

Journalists and internet users regularly face harassment and intimidation in retaliation for their online activities.1

In March 2023, Ari, a journalist, was stabbed; he reported that the incident was related to his critical reporting on prominent businessmen in Kuala Tungkal. Three men were detained for allegedly participating in the attack.2

Activists and journalists who report on and discuss the Papua region consistently face intimidation. In January 2023, Victor Mambor, a senior Papuan journalist and founder of the independent news site Jubi, was threatened by a bomb explosion three meters from his home.3 Mambor said the attack was likely connected to his reporting.4 In April 2021, his car had been vandalized.5

In September 2022, journalist Gusti Sevta Gumilar and activist Zaenal Mustofa, both residents of Karawang, were kidnapped and beaten after they criticized 1951 Persika, a local soccer team. Gusti reported that the attack was committed by State Civil Apparatus (ASN) officers.6

Indonesian internet users report experiencing online harassment related to their gender. SAFEnet received 698 complaints of online gender-based violence in 2022, primarily from women. Some 375 complaints involved the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images, 353 involved sexual extortion, and 210 related to doxing.7 People facing such harassment reported experiencing additional forms of intimidation, extortion, and emotional manipulation.

Protesters and internet users in academic communities have also been targeted for their online activity.8

C8 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Are websites, governmental and private entities, service providers, or individual users subject to widespread hacking and other forms of cyberattack? 1.001 3.003

Civil servants, journalists, activists, civil society groups, and news outlets have experienced technical attacks in recent years. SAFEnet reported at least 178 digital attacks in 2022, with many targeting activists and journalists. Technical attacks such as hacking, data breaches, and phishing made up more than 80 percent of these incidents.1 The websites of government entities and private companies regularly face hacks and data breaches.

The media outlet Narasi faced a systematic cyberattack in September 2022. At least 31 employees, including the editor in chief, producers, reporters, and designers, lost access to their phone numbers, which left them unable to log in to their social media accounts due to two-factor authentication requirements.2 Moreover, Narasi’s website was hacked, and the attacker sent a message to the server that read "silent or die.”3

In October 2022, suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack after releasing an investigation about four employees at the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises who allegedly committed rape and then forced the victim to marry a perpetrator.4

In January 2023, Group-IB reported that Dark Pink, a hacking group, had breached Indonesian government and military systems; the attacks were reportedly still occurring as of May 2023.5 In March 2023, Check Point Research released a report claiming that SharpPanda, the Chinese hacking group, had conducted cyberespionage against Indonesian government agencies in late 2022. The group used malware to access government networks.6

Throughout August 2022, 37 subdomains of websites belonging to the Indragiri Hulu Regency government were defaced.7

Major data breaches also occurred during the coverage period.8 The personal data of 105 million Indonesians, or about 40 percent of the country’s population, were reportedly stolen from the KPU and sold in September 2022.9 In August 2022, 1.3 billion SIM card registration data were allegedly stolen from Kominfo and sold.10 SAFEnet reported that at least 40 cases of data breaches occurred in 60 Indonesian public institutions during 2022.11

A February 2023 report from a consortium of news outlets coordinated by Forbidden Stories revealed that Team Jorge, a group of Israeli hackers, claimed to have hacked the KPU on election day in 2019. The journalists could not fully corroborate the claim.12

On Indonesia

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  • Global Freedom Score

    58 100 partly free
  • Internet Freedom Score

    47 100 partly free
  • Freedom in the World Status

    Partly Free
  • Networks Restricted

  • Websites Blocked

  • Pro-government Commentators

  • Users Arrested