Indonesian government blocks Steam, Epic, Ubisoft and Nintendo

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Over the weekend, the Indonesian government began blocking websites or services that had not registered as part of the new “Internet Control” laws. That ended up being a lot, including everything from Steam to the Epic Games Store to Nintendo Online to the platforms from EA and Ubisoft.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Kominfo) took the steps after introducing strict new laws, which the government says are part of a crackdown on anything appearing online that is “deemed illegal” and requiring an online service platform or provider that such “illegitimate” content to delete it within 24 hours (or four if it is considered “urgent”).

To comply with those laws, international companies operating in Indonesia had to sign up before the weekend, and it’s not surprising given the sweeping powers many have chosen not to, at least for now. In response, non-participating services have been blocked from Indonesian IPs, meaning that in addition to broader, more mainstream companies such as PayPal and Yahoo, a large number of gaming platforms have also been shut down.

While PayPal was temporarily reinstated (to allow customers to withdraw their funds from the platform), betting shops and platforms have been dark since the weekend (the registration deadline of the new law expired on July 27).

As Global Voices sum upthese laws have been opposed both inside and outside Indonesia since they were first announced:

The mandatory registration of Private Electronic System Operators (ESOs) is laid down in Ministerial Regulation 5 (MR5) of December 2020. The amended version, Ministerial Regulation 10 (MR10), was released in May 2021.

Both MR5 and MR10 have been consistently opposed by the media, civil society and human rights defenders for containing provisions that threaten freedom of expression.

Human Rights Watch to have said of the laws:

MR5 is very problematic, as it gives government agencies too broad powers to regulate online content, access user data and punish companies that don’t follow the rules… Ministerial Regulation 5 is a human rights disaster that affects the freedom of expression. in Indonesia, and should not be used in its present form.

Although this is not a market that normally makes the headlines, this is important news because Indonesia with its large population (at 270 million the fourth most populous country on earth) enormous 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 ranks in the top 10 for YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp users.”

None of the currently affected services are: forbidden; they’re technically just limited until they sign up with Kominfo or the law is changed (or repealed). Some of the companies that to have signed up include Google, Roblox and Riot Games (League of Legends, Appreciate). And while direct access to services like Steam isn’t available right now, Indonesian gamers reportedly already are get around this by using a VPN.

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