Indonesia's Online Restrictions and Spyware Use Raise Concerns from Rights Groups

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Indonesia's Online Restrictions and Spyware Use Raise Concerns

Indonesia's online restrictions have drawn criticism from rights groups, who claim the laws are used to silence critics and limit free speech on social media. A recent investigation by Amnesty International revealed that between 2017 and 2023, Jakarta deployed a range of invasive surveillance and spyware tools against opponents, media, and activists.

The investigation, conducted in collaboration with Asian, Israeli, and Western news outlets, found that these tools were purchased from a network of brokers, resellers, and vendors in Luxembourg, Israel, Malaysia, and Singapore. Companies and state agencies, including the National Police and National Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN), utilized these tools.

The investigation also identified malicious domains allegedly used to target individuals in Indonesia. "The murky trade in spyware tools to Indonesia adds another dangerous tool for potential intimidation. This cannot be allowed to continue," said Carolina Rocha da Silva of Amnesty's Security Lab.

Among the companies named in the investigation is Luxembourg-based Q Cyber Technologies SARL, linked to the Israeli firm NSO Group. NSO Group's Pegasus spyware has been used to target high-profile journalists and government officials.

The investigation highlighted the complex ownership structures of these companies, making it difficult to track their exports and ensure proper oversight. Products reach Indonesia directly and indirectly, raising concerns about accountability.

In response to the investigation, NSO Group stated that it conducts due diligence before approving sales. Israel's Defence Export Controls Agency claimed that it authorizes cyber exports to governments "only for anti-terror and law enforcement" purposes.

Indonesia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations, and support for the Palestinian cause is strong in Indonesia.

Amnesty International urged Indonesia to take steps to protect its citizens from mass surveillance and intrusion. "We call on the Indonesian government and parliament to enact meaningful regulation now, including a ban on highly invasive spyware which can never be used in a rights-respecting way," said Amnesty Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid.

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Round userpic of the post author Eric Cartman
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May 21, 2023 | 05:09