Taking back the internet
Born into eras of rapidly developing technology, millennials and Gen Z utilize technology in all aspects of life, not least in their careers. Blocked access to PayPal raised concerns over income security. In the weeks that followed, young workers collectively demanded the freedom to access technology, organizing focus groups and discussions on MR5 on platforms such as Discord, a private chat application, among other audio and video live-streaming apps.
Kominfo’s decision to temporarily terminate access to certain platforms has ignited a sense of solidarity among young Indonesians, who have since taken to social media to protest the government’s decision. On July 31, 2022, a Twitter Spaces live session on “Kebebasan Berpendapat dan Serangan Digital di Indonesia” (“Freedom of Expression and Digital Attacks in Indonesia”) was held to discuss the impact of MR5, what the public could do about it, and why policymakers should reconsider the regulation. A total of 41,000 listeners participated in two of the meeting sessions, while the recorded version has been played at least 182,000 times.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter became two-way communication platforms that allowed young users and protesters to take their concerns directly to government officials. Not long after the bans were imposed, Indonesian netizens created the Twitter hashtag #BlokirKominfo (“block Kominfo”) to voice their opposition to the temporary access bans.
Two months since the bans, the hashtag continues to trend across the internet, reaching close to 300,000 users a week as young netizens continue to watch for policies that infringe upon their rights. This includes the implementation of the whitelist method, which is expected to make most non-Indonesian websites inaccessible as the system only allows websites that are registered within the country.
Two weeks after the blocked platforms agreed to comply with MR5, the government lifted the sanctions, leaving a lot of disgruntled netizens to continue to stew. On the road to becoming the next global tech hub, Indonesia should be careful about upsetting and possibly alienating the very digital natives vital to achieving those ambitions.