Communications Minister: Data protection Law Urgently Needed

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesian aims to bring in a new law to protect personal data by next year as it follows in the footsteps of Southeast Asian neighbors such as Singapore and also the European Union, Communications Minister Johny G. Plate said as quoted by Reuters.

    The government had a "roadmap to data sovereignty" to reflect the growing importance of data and planned to establish the new law in Indonesia urgently, said the Minister.

    "We've discussed this...and parliament has agreed in a meeting with us that it (data protection law) will become a priority law in 2020," Johnny said in an interview on Friday, Nov. 15.

    He said existing rules to protect data were spread across many laws and needed to be brought together under one law.

    The move comes amid wider regional efforts by Southeast Asian governments to demand action from global tech giants on content regulation and tax policy.

    The stakes are high for both governments, which are counting on the digital economy to drive growth, and internet companies, which view Indonesia's population of 641 million as a key growth market.

    Indonesia is a top-five market globally for U.S. tech giants Facebook and Twitter. Authorities have succeeded in getting social media companies Telegram and TikTok to establish content monitoring teams in Indonesia after briefly banning them over "negative content."

    The government has said it will meet social media companies to discuss its plans to impose fines of up to around $36,000 if they allow content such as pornography, violence or extremist ideology.

    Johnny played down the prospect of fines being applied if there was cooperation from companies. "The main principle isn't about fines...what we want is for social media to be used properly, used to be beneficial," he said.

    He also defended the government's move to impose temporary internet curbs to stop people from sharing content online during recent periods of civil unrest in Papua and when there were riots in Jakarta.

    "Being repressive or applying censorship when things are normal...that's wrong," said the minister.

    "But when there's civil disobedience, that's not repressive. That's restoring the situation to normal," he said.

    The imposition of internet curbs has been criticized by rights groups.