Communications Minister Rudiantara said the government would not be able to track down people spreading disinformation online if they are not required to furnish phone numbers when registering social media accounts. (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Social Media Users Will Be Required to Provide Phone Numbers When Registering Accounts: Minister

BY :CARLOS K.Y. PAATH & CHRISTIAN LEE

JUNE 19, 2019

Jakarta. The Indonesian government now wants to compel social media platforms to require new users to provide their phone numbers when registering accounts. 

Communications Minister Rudiantara said this will be done to prevent the use of anonymous accounts to spread hoaxes or false information.

"Why are there anonymous posts from anonymous accounts? Because [the users] registered anonymously," Rudiantara said at the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Wednesday.

The minister said he had already sent letters to the heads of several social media platforms, including Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, to request them to include phone numbers as a requirement for registering new accounts.

Rudiantara said anonymous accounts exist because social media users thus far only had to include an email address when creating accounts. He added that unless phone numbers are included, the government would be unable to track down people who incite violence by spreading disinformation online.

"If they include their phone numbers, their numbers are already registered [with the government]. So if someone does something illegal, we can track them down. It's good for law enforcement. If it's not done, people will do whatever they like," he said.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo announced on Monday that the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN) will assist the police in conducting "cyber-patrols" to identify social media accounts used to disseminate hoaxes or hate speech. The government has expressed support for the plan.

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