Indonesian Government Blocks Steam, Epic & Nintendo For 270 Million People

Indonesian Government Blocks Steam, Epic & Nintendo For 270 Million People

Over the weekend the Indonesian government began the task of blocking any website or service that had failed to register as part of new “internet control” laws. That ended up being a lot, including everything from Steam to the Epic Games Store to Nintendo Online to EA and Ubisoft’s platforms.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo) took the steps after the introduction of strict new laws, which the government says is part of a crackdown on anything appearing online that is “deemed unlawful”, and which would require any online service platform or provider hosting any such “unlawful” content to remove it within 24 hours (or four if it is deemed to be “urgent”).

In order to abide by those laws, international companies operating in Indonesia needed to have signed up by the weekend, and unsurprisingly given the sweeping powers at play many have chosen not to, at least for now. As a response, non-participating services have been blocked to Indonesian IPs, which means alongside wider, more mainstream companies like PayPal and Yahoo, a host of gaming platforms have also been cut off.

While PayPal was temporarily reinstated (in order to allow customers to get their money off the platform), the gaming stores and platforms have remained dark since the weekend (the new law’s registration deadline passed on July 27).

As Global Voices sum up, these laws have been opposed both within and outside of Indonesia since they were first announced:

The mandatory registration of private electronic systems operators (ESOs) is stipulated in the Ministerial Regulation 5 (MR5) issued in December 2020. Its amended version, Ministerial Regulation 10 (MR10), was released in May 2021.

Both MR5 and MR10 have been consistently opposed by the media, civil society groups, and human rights advocates for containing provisions that pose a threat to freedom of expression.

Human Rights Watch have said of the laws:

MR5 is deeply problematic, granting government authorities overly broad powers to regulate online content, access user data, and penalise companies that fail to comply…Ministerial Regulation 5 is a human rights disaster that will devastate freedom of expression in Indonesia, and should not be used in its current form.

While this isn’t a market that’s normally in the headlines, this is important news because with its large population (at 270 million its the fourth most-populous nation on Earth) Indonesia is a huge market for online services. As The Diplomat point out, “Indonesia remains one of the largest internet markets in the world, with the third-largest population of Facebook users and also comes in the top 10 for users of YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp”.

None of the services currently affected are banned; they’re technically just restricted either until they sign up Kominfo or the law is modified (or repealed). Some of the companies that have signed up include Google, Roblox and Riot Games (League of Legends, Valorant). And while direct access to services like Steam are currently not available, Indonesian gamers are already reportedly getting around this by using a VPN.

Comments

    • When have the greens been into restricting internet communications? I don’t remember Labor being about it either but I have no doubt they’d be ok with it if it suited them. But the Greens?

      • Labor is complicit by helping pass every single authoritarian ‘national security’ law put forth by the Coalition, particularly those that restrict internet communication and access by Australians.

        “…a crackdown on anything appearing online that is “deemed unlawful”, and which would require any online service platform or provider hosting any such “unlawful” content to remove it within 24 hours (or four if it is deemed to be “urgent”).”

        The four parties salivate over this, evidenced by the e-safety commissioner’s continued existence (as a job, not the commissioner herself), and over the previous decade the Greens and Labor’s support for the Coalition’s other internet legislation encroaching on Australians’ privacy and access to the internet. Regardless of whether conditional or not, they still supported it the idea of restrictions and are enthusiastic about it so long as it’s on their equally oppressive terms.

        • I dislike the greens for other reasons, but I have always given them credit for being consistent in being against internet censorship.

          Can you please provide the exact legislation and the voting records showing they supported the legislation.

      • Stephen Conroy was the architect of Labors great internet firewall back when he was minister for communications. thankfully it was eventually scrapped but it took a massive amount campaigning and pressure from the tech industry and ordinary citizens for it to happen.

        the greens however, well its GameJoker after all, cant take anything it says without a hefty amount salt like the Angryfish

        • Remember that porn filter they spent 80 million on only for it to be bypassed by a teenager in 40 minutes after it was launched?

    • The Greens have been the only significant political party to be consistently against internet censorship in Australia. Scott Ludlam was enormously active in that space.

      For over a decade the Greens have consistently voted against both the ALP and the Coalition’s multiple internet filter bills, metadata retention and secret encryption back doors, expansion of government surveillance and enhanced ASIO powers, and detention without trial. See, for example https://greens.org.au/magazine/living-surveillance-state

      Don’t assume that just because the Greens don’t like sexist, racist, homophobic arseholes that they don’t support your right to make a tool of yourself both publicly and in the privacy of your own home.

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