“Peterporn” Sex Tape Scandal leads to talk of more Indonesian Internet censorship

Indonesia's pop singer Nazril ''Ariel'' Irham (R) and his television star girlfriend Luna Maya speak during an exclusive interview with TVONE station in Jakarta June 14, 2010 in this frame grab taken on June 15, 2010, over the controversial release of video clips appearing to show the top starlets having sex. REUTERS/TVONE

Credit: Reuters, TvOne

After the leak of a celebrity sex tape, Indonesia is ablaze with new talks of Internet censorship and filtration of online pornography.

The main alleged tape, nicknamed “Peterporn”, featured the lead artist of the pop bad Peterpan, Ariel, and his girlfriend, Luna Maya. To make matters worse though, it seems another sex tape, this time featuring Ariel with gossip show host Cut Tari, also managed to find its way to the Internet. At this point, the stars themselves are denying all allegations.

While Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation, already had laws and regulations in place restricting pornography, this new leak is stirring up trouble in the government over how to address these issues.

Substantial outcry has caused politicians to look back on their old policies regarding the prohibition of pornographic materials and contemplate putting more barriers, both digital and legal, in place to prevent access to what they considering degrading and inappropriate material. With large influence of conservative Muslims in the government in Indonesia, the nation passed a anti-porn law in 2008 that was surrounded in much controversy and debate. It placed strict penalties on those who possess pornographic materials, transport them, or even engage in public performance that may be deemed “sexually suggestive”.

Now, the people and government of Indonesia are questioning if even that is enough.

In a quote given to Reuters from Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, the President of Indonesia’s conservative PKS party, he had this to say:

“To protect a community, there must be control, we cannot have total freedom. To create comfort and overcome negative effects on communities who are not ready and not supposed to consume certain material, then controls are a very good idea.”

When further asked whether or not the government would feel comfortable blocking sites like YouTube or Facebook, Ishaaq deemed it acceptable if it was “in the national interest”. With this sort of attitude being presented from the government, those concerned with Indonesia’s open access to the Internet should be even more focused now on the debate that is undoubtedly going to continue.

Amidst this concerning talk about censoring parts of the the Internet, this issue is actually spawning some positive discussions as well within Indonesia. Some concerned individuals are smartly bringing up the problem of seemingly precise filtration often leads to later trampling of freedom of expression. Many of the more vocal critics do agree though that some tighter regulation needs to happen of this type of material.

This sort of “mixed feeling” and desire for balance between cultural sanctity and freedom to express opinions and beliefs has been a rare-seen occurrence amongst other predominantly Muslim nations that have enacted similar anti-porn policies. It provides some optimism that worse-case scenario Internet crackdowns wont occur in Indonesia, but the world should still be alert to the very distinct possibility that such events have become shockingly more likely given the degree of scandal that the “Peterporn” video has sparked.

About the Author: Alex Fayette

Alex is a Junior at Yale University who is currently an intern with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society @ Harvard Law School. His focus this summer is with Herdict.org and also with other Berkman projects falling under the Freedom of Expression umbrella. He is majoring in Economics and Physics, and loves singing and aviation on the side.

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