12 January 2011

Is The Fight Against RIM More Than Just Porn?

The Jakarta Globe is reporting that the Minister for [Mis]Communication and [Mis]Information, Tifatul Sembiring (or as I prefer to call him, "TitS") has moved his anti-RIM and anti-BlackBerry fight to an argument that is "more than just about porn". And, he is telling the truth.

The Minister's campaign against RIM is about beating RIM into submission. It is all about control. TitS problem with RIM is that he cannot control it. The fact that he cannot control RIM or how people use their BlackBerry Smartphones is a threat. In the TitS world this is a threat against the unity of the Republic, it is a threat to the political and corporate elite that "run" the show in Indonesia in part to the ability to control the president and organise SBY's agenda. The TitS view is that social networking and the internet are threats to the controlled democracy that Indonesia currently enjoys.

A TitS reality is that if he does not control upstart foreign infidels like RIM then there will be significant repercussions for Indonesia that are not natural disasters (currently linked to viewing too much porn) such as a people-centered democracy as opposed to a political and business elite-centered democracy where the rich get ever so much richer and the rest can do whatever they want so long as it is not social networking.

If you want to see how much of a threat the social networking phenomenon is to Indonesia in the eyes of the National Security Council (Dewan Ketahanan Nasional / Wantannas) then follow this link (unfortunately it is in Indonesian). This is a Terms of Reference (TOR) document for meeting held early 2010.

So, the fact that TitS is now playing the nationalism card is not surprising. In fact, it is long overdue. The best way to turn public opinion is to play to one's sense of nationalistic pride and make the foreigners the bad people who are only in Indonesia to rape and pillage in a vein similar to what the Dutch did when they were the colonial masters of the Dutch East Indies universe. It is a standard game of "us" and "them" rhetoric that is designed to deceive Indonesians to give up voluntarily their freedom to access information in a manner that is difficult for the Indonesian authorities to monitor.

The reality is that a legitimate request for information from RIM or to track corruption or terrorist suspects through the RIM servers would more than likely be granted. The need for a RIM server in Indonesia is nothing more than "big brother" wanting to be able to go in without legitimate reasons to track the activities of every day Indonesians going about their business.

The suggestion yesterday that RIM was stealing the wealth of Indonesian citizens because it did not pay taxes or have business investment such as servers in Indonesia is absurd. RIM provides a service you pay for it, and you get what you pay for. RIM is not stealing from ordinary Indonesians. I am all for finding a way that allows Indonesians to benefit from RIM expertise through employment and the like. Perhaps, a start is the service center. But, the threat to shut RIM down is silly.

It would have been fun to watch RIM tell TitS that they were not going to comply; call his bluff. If TitS had the testicular fortitude to shut RIM down then all hell would break loose down Senayan way as all the BlackBerry using politicians and party appartchiks found themselves carrying round a useless piece of technology.

Yes, Minister, this confrontation is about more than just porn. This shakedown is about the sort of freedoms and democracy that Indonesians want to enjoy in the future. It is about whether Indonesians are allowed to utilise the Internet on their own terms and social network freely or submit to your terms of control.

Is the TitS plan the first step along the path to the dark abyss?

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