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President Jokowi wants police to be more selective in enforcing UU ITE as government considers revising controversial law

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President Joko Widodo called for a more selective approach in enforcing Indonesia’s Electronic Information and Transaction Law (UU ITE), possibly laying the seeds for a much-needed revision of the controversial law.

In a meeting with police and military officials in Jakarta yesterday, the president said UU ITE contained many ambiguously-worded articles, which critics say have long been used as a tool. oppression and to silence the real critics of those in power.

Sections of law that can be interpreted in multiple ways should be interpreted with caution. We should make an official guideline for the interpretation of UU ITE articles so that everything is clear, Jokowi mentionned.

If UU ITE cannot provide a sense of justice, I will ask the House of Representatives (DPR) to meet to review UU ITE because this is the source [of the problems]. First and foremost, we would delete ambiguous articles which are subject to unilateral interpretations.

Such articles in UU ITE are primarily related to hate speech and are applied in conjunction with equally ambiguous laws prohibiting blasphemy and defamation.

Minister responsible for the coordination of legal, political and security affairs Mahfud MD also tweeted yesterday about the possibility of revising the UU ITE.

The government will discuss an initiative to review the UU ITE. In 2007/2008, many enthusiastically called for the formation of UU ITE. If now the law is found to be flawed and contains ambiguous articles, let’s revise the law. Either way, it’s a democracy, Mahfud wrote.

On National Press Day last week, President Jokowi called on civilians to actively criticize the government where appropriate. However, critics claim that many Indonesians fear criticizing the government due to the looming threat of UU ITE and associated hate speech laws, as well as legions of staunch government supporters on social media, known colloquially under the name of buzzers.

It should be noted that the government has already promised revisions to UU ITE, most recently in 2019 following a controversial case in which a woman was found guilty of disseminating immoral content online after posting an audio recording of her boss harassing her.

UU ITE was last revised in 2016, but only a few minor changes were made. Oddly, the revision broadened the legislative definition of libel and libel and increased the maximum prison sentence for libel to six years from four years previously.

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