30 June 2009
BlackBerry In Indonesia
This is something that was written in conjunction with a work colleague and has been published at the English language version of hukumonline.
Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that developed the BlackBerry smartphone, has been informed by the Department of Communication and Information that any new handsets released will not be permitted as imports to Indonesia or approved for sale. This ban has been in place since 2 June 2009.
This decision was issued through the press release of the Department of Communication and Information, namely: No. 123/PIH/KOMINFO/6/2009. It must be noted that existing BlackBerry smartphones and stocks remain legal and the government has explicitly stated that it does not intend to ban existing BlackBerry services.
The basic premise of the prohibition is simply that RIM has not established any after sales service center for BlackBerry owners in Indonesia. It is estimated that there are some one million BlackBerry users in Indonesia. The establishment of an after sales service center is mandated in the Minister of Communication and Information Regulation No. 29/PER/M.KOMINFO/09/2008 on Certification of Telecommunication Tools and Equipment.
Therefore, any failure to comply with the after sales requirement permits the Department to reject any application submitted by the product owner. In essence, this is what the Department has done; it has simply rejected all RIM requests for departmental approval for new BlackBerry smartphone handsets
Interestingly, the Minister of Communication and Information is not authorized to ban the import of goods to Indonesia. However, authorized or not, sans the requisite certification from the Directorate General of Post and Telecommunications of the Department of Communication and Information, any importers, including RIM, are consequently unable to import the BlackBerry to Indonesia.
The above is true because under the National Single Window system the Directorate General of Custom and Excise of the Department of Finance can only approve imports of telecommunication products that have the Directorate General of Post and Telecommunication certification.
The decision is not to be seen as a means of prohibiting the purchase or usage of BlackBerry smartphones. As noted earlier, all existing BlackBerry smartphones and services will remain as they are. The decision only affects the import and release of new models into the Indonesian market. This is clearly the point the Department is making in its latest press release, No. 141/PIH/KOMINFO/6/2009.
It seems that the government is willing to play hardball with RIM with respect to the establishment of an after sales service center. The Department’s view is that the existing BlackBerry user base in Indonesia justifies an after sales service center, particularly as the number of users would only grow with the release of new handsets.
Finally, the Department and the government have already characterized this as a consumer protection issue. Specifically, they are enforcing the provisions of Law No. 8 of 1999 to ensure that Indonesian consumers enjoy their rights with respect to BlackBerry equipment.
The ball is clearly in RIM’s court.