Indonesian government blocks access to Steam and EGS for failure to meet a database registration deadline

This was all funny until it happened to us!

The government of Indonesia is drawing attention and ire after it implemented new regulation for internet services and digital games storefronts that have resulted in a block of Steam, the Epic Games Store, and PayPal for folks in the country.

In late November 2020, Indonesia’s government released a new series of rules that gave authorities the power to compel online platforms to turn over data from certain users to the government and remove content deemed illegal or that “disturbs public order” within the country. Tech firms had until July 20th, 2022, to register under the country’s new licensing rules or face a block. That block has since gone into effect, thereby halting Indonesians from accessing the aforementioned services as well as Yahoo and websites for DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike.

Valve has since said that it’s “working on complying with Indonesia’s requirements.”

Indonesian authorities did temporarily unblock PayPal for a five-day window that allowed residents to withdraw deposits from PayPal. Additionally, the government says that blocks will be fully removed should the companies that missed the deadline complete the licensing registration process.

However, the government’s rules are drawing agitation from users, causing a hashtag related to the block to trend on Twitter. Many argue that the new rules will hamstring Indonesia’s games industry and harm freelancers who rely on PayPal for payment, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote an open letter asking for a repeal of the regulations, calling them “invasive” and saying they have a “chilling effect on human rights.”

“EFF joined SAFEnet and a dozen digital rights organizations in urging the Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information to repeal its invasive content moderation rules, known as the Ministerial Regulation Number 5 (MR5) and its amendment, Ministerial Regulation Number 10 (MR10). EFF has already sounded the alarm about MR5’s chilling effect on human rights, from forcing online platforms to proactively monitor user-generated content to turning them into government enforcers and making them obtain an ID registration before offering their services in Indonesia. In late June of 2022, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo) set a short deadline for private electronic service operators (ESO) to allegedly comply with the ID registration obligations. Platforms that do not comply face blocking of their services in Indonesia. This is in stark contradiction to Indonesia’s international human rights obligations, and will significantly limit Indonesians’ rights to receive and impart information and speak freely online. MR5 and MR10 should be repealed.”

sources: Reuters (1, 2) and via The Verge. Cheers, Jomsviking.
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