Jakarta. Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information on Monday announced it had banned video sharing site Vimeo, claiming that it hosted “pornographic” content, causing an outcry among local users.
“We’ve recently received several reports from the public about websites containing negative or pornographic elements... including the site vimeo.com,” the ministry said in a press statement. “From the results of our investigations we’ve found categories or channels containing pornographic videos on vimeo.com.”
The ministry said its research had uncovered on the site 7,712 videos tagged as “Nudie Cutie,” another 6,915 as “Art of Nakedness” and 1,186 as “Beautiful of Nakedness [sic],” among others.
Vimeo, in its terms of service, prohibits videos displaying sexually explicit content or pornography, but the New York-based site did not include nudity in its definition of pornography, the ministry said.
The site, founded in 2004, was the first video sharing site to support high definition, and became widely used by independent musicians and filmmakers for that reason.
Citing Indonesia’s controversial anti-pornography law, passed in 2008, the ministry said pornography included displays of “nudity or nudity-like features” and human genitals, and that all sites allowed in Indonesia were banned from running services offering such materials.
“Based on the aforementioned considerations, we’ve included the site vimeo.com in our TRUST+ Positif List, which currently contains 119 other pornographic sites,” the ministry said.
Updates to the list of blocked sites are distributed continually to local Internet service providers so that they may block access, the ministry said. The latest update was made on Friday.
As of Monday at noon, though, not all Indonesia-based ISPs had blocked Vimeo. Telkom began blocking the site on Sunday, but Telkomsel, Indosat, XL Axiata and First Media had not.
“If it is included in the Trust+ database of sites that should be blocked, of course we will block it,” Telkom’s vice president for public relations Arif Prabowo told Indonesian news portal kompas.com.
The Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association (APJII) said other ISPs simply had not received the ministry’s latest update.
The partial ban sparked fierce protests from Indonesian Vimeo users, with many of them attacking Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring via his Twitter account, @tifsembiring.
“Dear Vimeo, you’ve been blocked by our government in Indonesia. I’m so sorry for how stupid our lovely minister, @tifsembiring [is],” one user, @falindra tweeted on Monday.
Another Twitter user, @katadochi, accused Tifatul of blocking the site because it hosted a fake campaign video of a legislative candidate from the Islamist leaning Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), featuring a dangdut singer performing a sensual dance.
Tifatul was formerly the head of PKS.
“So because 1 video on vimeo goes viral, @tifsembiring blocks vimeo. With all due respect, sir, you’re a douchebag," the user tweeted.
Tifatul denied the accusation, saying: “that video is defamatory. There was no such campaign by PKS. We’ve checked, it’s a promiscuous event and then [someone] put up a PKS banner...”
He also tweeted that his office had sent a letter to Vimeo, hoping it would respond well to the government’s request for stricter content filters, as in the case of YouTube, which has agreed to block videos containing pornographic materials in Indonesia.
“We’ve sent a letter to the management of http://Vimeo.com, so that they will shut pornographic contents,” Tifatul said. “With YouTube, their response and cooperation have gone smoothly. Hope [Vimeo] will respond well.”
Megi Margiyono, a cyber law expert with Indonesia Online Advocacy (Idola), an Internet watchdog, criticized the ban, arguing that the ministry should simply request Vimeo to filter the contents deemed pornographic rather than blocking the whole site.
He also questioned the ministry’s failure to advise all ISPs of the ban.
“Why do only certain ISPs get the ban order? Why not all ISPs?” Megi told kompas.com. “If it’s an order, it should be received by all ISPs.”
Tifatul and his ministry have been at the forefront of Indonesia’s war against pornography. In 2012, he said his ministry had blocked access to as many as a million porn sites.
In the past few days, Tifatul has caused additional controversy on twitter over a seemingly flippant reply to a question about Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.
He raised an uproar in March when he followed a pornographic twitter account "by accident."