Indonesian government blocks Steam, Epic, Ubisoft and Nintendo

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Over the weekend, the Indonesian government began blocking any website or service that had failed to register under new “internet control” laws. It ended up being a lot, including everything from Steam to the Epic Games Store, Nintendo Online, EA, and Ubisoft’s platforms.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo) has taken action after the introduction of tough new laws, which the government says are part of a crackdown on anything that appears online that is “deemed illegal”, and which would necessitate any online service platform or provider hosting such “unlawful” content to delete it within 24 hours (or four if deemed “urgent”).

In order to comply with these laws, international companies operating in Indonesia had to have registered by the weekend, and unsurprisingly given the vast powers at stake, many have chosen not to, at least for now. . In response, non-participating services were blocked on Indonesian IP addresses, meaning that alongside larger and more mainstream companies like PayPal and Yahoo, a host of gaming platforms were also cut.

While PayPal has been temporarily reinstated (to allow customers to withdraw their money from the platform), gaming stores and platforms have remained in the dark since the weekend (the deadline for registering the new law passed on July 27).

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

Mandatory registration of operators of private electronic systems (ESO) is stipulated in Ministerial Regulation 5 (MR5) published in December 2020. Its amended version, Ministerial Regulation 10 (MR10), was published in May 2021.

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

Human Rights Watch have says laws:

MR5 is deeply problematic, giving government authorities overly broad powers to regulate online content, access user data, and penalize companies that don’t comply… Ministerial Regulation 5 is a disaster when it comes to human rights which will devastate freedom of expression in Indonesia and should not be used in its current form.

Although this is not a market that normally makes the headlines, it is important news because with its large population (with 270 million people, it is the fourth most populous country on the planet), l Indonesia is a huge online services market. As The diplomat report“Indonesia remains one of the largest Internet markets in the world, with the third largest population of Facebook users and is also in the top 10 users of YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp.”

None of the services currently affected are banned; they are technically just restricted until they register with Kominfo or the law is changed (or repealed). Some of the companies that have registered include Google, Roblox and Riot Games (League of Legends, Valorant). And while direct access to services like Steam isn’t currently available, Indonesian gamers would already be bypass it using a VPN.

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