08 January 2011

BlackBerry, Blocking Porn, and a Threat from TitS...


Tifatul Sembiring (TitS) has a problem with porn. He does not like it. He wants the porn industry shutdown in Indonesia and he wants to make sure the heathens and infidels in other lands who are the purveyors of porn and hell-bent on the destruction of the Indonesian way of life, can no longer see their objectionable content available to the Indonesian masses who crave it.

According to TitS, his one-man campaign to eradicate porn from Indonesia has successfully seen an 80% reduction in the amount of porn available in Indonesia. Anyways, before hitting the 100% mark TitS has turned his attention to Research In Motion (RIM) the makers of the BlackBerry Smartphone.

TitS has two problems with RIM both are separate yet seemingly related. The first is that TitS wants RIM to set up a server and database in Indonesia. Currently, Indonesians using RIM Smartphones are routed through servers in Canada. The rationale for this first demand is that it will be easier for Indonesia to intercept the encrypted traffic that goes through the local servers than it would be for them in comparison to data going through a Canadian or other off-shore server.

The second issue that TitS has is that RIM has been dragging the chain on agreeing to set up their Smartphones to block pornographic content. The legal basis for the TitS claim is Articles 18 and 19 of the Pornography Law (No. 44 of 2008).

These are clearly two separate issues. Yet, they are linked that a local database and server may make it easier for the heavy-hand of big brother (aka the Indonesian Government) to track (legally intercept?) sex-starved, hot and sweaty, Indonesian consumers of world-wide porn.

Returning to the first issue. RIM heeds to establish a database center and server in Indonesia in order to comply with the prevailing laws and regulations that govern operations in this sector. RIM have been stalling on fulfilling the obligations that the Indonesian government believes RIM has. The latest excuse for avoiding TitS was that it was a public holiday in Canada and therefore they could not attend meetings in Indonesia on a  Canadian Public Holiday. For TitS, this is not good enough and not a legitimate excuse.

If I am not mistaken, the last time I checked the Indonesian Consulate here in Maroubra closed for all the official Indonesian public holidays and all the Australian ones as well. TitS, that is just not good enough, is it?

Anyways, the Minister for [Mis]Communication and [Mis]Information has threatened to shut RIM down in Indonesia if it does not comply in two weeks to, presumably, either demand. How seriously RIM takes this matter might be proportional to how much they value the Indonesian market. Indonesian BlackBerry users account for more than 7% of the total number of BlackBerry users world-wide.

On the blocking of porn. I am no tech wizard and my knowledge is pretty limited. However, I have always been led to believe that "where there is a will, there is a way". In essence, if Indonesians want to access porn then they will always be able to do so. It may require a little more effort and a lot more knowledge to avail one's self of the intricate network of proxy servers that are able to bypass any and all attempts to prohibit access.

If this is true, then irrespective of how one feels about the legitimacy and intent of the efforts of TitS, it would seem that the man is fighting a losing battle. Maybe it is time that TitS took up the long-standing offer of Vicky Vette to burn off some of his pent up frustrations.

Ho hum...

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