Jakarta. The House of Representatives will start discussions on the revision of Indonesia's controversial electronic information and transactions (ITE) law this month, with the stated aim of reducing punishments for violators.
The controversial 2008 law, which was used to nail high-profile singer Nazril “Ariel” Irham in 2010 after sex videos featuring him and -- allegedly -- two artist girlfriends spread widely on the Internet, will see its penal provisions revised, Mahfudz Siddiq, chairman of the House’s Commission I, said last week.
Not only Ariel, who was jailed for three and a half years, but activists and even a hospital patient were prosecuted based on the ITE law.
Ariel ultimately spent "only" one year behind bars.
Mahfudz said the House had received a draft revision from Rudiantara, the communication and IT minister.
“Hearings can start in early February. The target is to conclude [the discussions] in this legislative session,” said the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician.
According to the House's schedule, the current legislative session lasts until March 11.
Mahfudz said the draft proposes to reduce jail time from six years to four years for certain prohibited acts.
According to the Article 27 in the current law, people are not allowed distribute or transmit electronic information or electronic records that run counter to propriety, promote gambling, are defamatory or contain threats.
Another Commission I lawmaker, Meutya Hafid from the Golkar Party, says a broad revision of Article 27 is needed, to avoid more people becoming “victims.”
“The clause on content violating propriety needs to be revised. That clause was included into the electronic information and transactions law at a time when there still was no pornography law. It would be better to remove it [from the law], so there will be no overlap,” said Meutya.
Prita Mulyasari, a homemaker and mother of two, was taken to court in 2009 after Omni International Hospital in Tangerang reported her to authorities for violating the ITE law, after she complained about the hospital’s service in private e-mails she sent to friends.
She was found guilty in 2011 and handed a six-month suspended sentence, but the verdict was overthrown by the Supreme Court in 2012, after her defamation case had gone viral on social media.
Indonesia's broad anti-pornography law, which was passed October 2008, makes it possibly for people to be jailed for sexually suggestive performances in the public space, among other transgressions.
Writing by Muhamad Al Azhari