Indonesia blocks 1 million porn sites, is just getting started

Summary:The Indonesian government has blocked access to 1 million pornographic websites in advance of Ramadan, the country's holy month. Internet censorship is nothing new in Indonesia, but the scale of this particular restriction is unprecedented.

Indonesia blocks 1 million porn sites

Indonesia can be a very strict place when it comes to the Internet (see Man faces five years for 'God does not exist' Facebook post). Most recently, the country's communications and information ministry has pulled the plug on pornographic websites in advance of Ramadan, which begins at sunset on Thursday.

We're not talking about just a handful of key portals. The Indonesian government has killed access to 1 million porn sites, all of which were based outside of the country. The ministry estimates there are around 2 billion websites providing pornographic content.

Apparently this is only the beginning. Minister Tifatul Sembiring said Wednesday his office would target more sites through the country's holy month, and beyond. "We will block more porn sites during Ramadan, though that doesn't mean that we will allow such sites to operate during the rest of the year," Sembiring told The Times of India. "Online pornography is an industry and the producers always seem to find new ways of escaping detection."

This is nothing new for Indonesia. Especially in recent years, the country's officials have increased their control over offensive online content, particularly related to porn and Islamic slander. The government regulates anything it deems inappropriate through legal and regulatory frameworks and through partnerships with ISPs and Internet cafés.

It all started in 2007 when some websites were blocked for brief periods of time. In April 2008, Indonesia ordered ISPs to block YouTube after Google reportedly did not respond to the government's request to remove the film "Fitna" by the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, which purportedly mocked the Prophet Muhammed.

In May 2010, when an account on Facebook promoted a competition to draw the Prophet, government officials asked the social networking giant to close the account and demanded all ISPs to limit access to the account's link (due to opposition from bloggers and civil society, the demand was disregarded). In January 2011, Research In Motion agreed to filter pornographic Internet content on its smartphones . The BlackBerry maker worked with local carriers and the Indonesian government to implement the blocks in what it called a "top priority."

See also:

Topics: Security, Censorship, Government, Government : Asia, Outage

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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