Indonesia: Indonesia creates agency to combat fake news

Indonesia: Indonesia creates agency to combat fake news

Indonesia is setting up an agency that will tackle fake news after a flood of untrue stories on social media, an official said in January 2017. Those stories include claims China was waging biological warfare against the country using contaminated chili seeds. The new cyber agency will also seek to protect state institutions from hackers, said presidential spokesman Johan Budi.

Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said the move was necessary to combat a flood of news on social media that was “slanderous, fake, misleading and spread hate.”

“Freedom [of speech] is a right in a democracy, but there is also an obligation to obey the law,” he said.

Officials said the agency would monitor news circulating online to check for false stories. It will be overseen by the Security Ministry and will work alongside other government agencies, they said, without giving further details.

The idea for the agency came after President Joko Widodo declared his intention at a cabinet meeting in December 2016 to combat fake news in a country where people are rapidly getting online for the first time, with more than 130 million out of 255 million inhabitants
now estimated to be internet users.

One of the most high-profile cases in recent times was a false claim circulating on social media in December 2016 that Beijing was seeking to wage biological warfare against Indonesia, after a true story that four Chinese citizens were arrested for using imported chili seeds infected with bacteria on a farm south of Jakarta.

The Chinese Embassy in Jakarta was forced to issue a statement saying that the reports were “misleading and have caused great concerns.”  Agence France-Presse