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Indonesia's war against porn

Pop star Ariel heads to jail for sex tape and Blackberry gets censored.

Indonesia flirted with a similar order, saying a data center was needed to track communication sent through the handhelds by suspected criminals, but it later dropped the threat in favor of the pornography filter.

Industry analysts say Research in Motion likely complied with the filter to ensure good relations with one of its fastest-growing markets. And while the company has been unwilling to compromise on opening access to email, blocking porn will do little to harm its reputation with clients.

That argument comes as little comfort to Lubis.

“Pornography is really an [emotional] issue for people,” she said. “So using porn as an issue to block the internet, to block communication, we believe this is really just the beginning.”

Sembiring rejected charges that blocking pornographic websites violates freedoms of speech and expression protected by the Indonesian constitution. Rather, the effort is in line with several regulations, including the 2008 Information Transaction Law, which bans the distribution of pornographic material, and the anti-pornography law, which outlaws pornographic acts and images in the form of drawings, photographs, text, voice and gestures.

Critics say that law is too opaque.

“We have to clearly define what pornography is through a court decision before we can say what should be blocked,” said Ari Juliano Gema, an intellectual property lawyer who educates youth about the legal pitfalls of social networking.

He warns teens not to distribute or even forward links to indecent content since downloading pornography from the internet could land them in jail — a punishment he said is a complete misinterpretation of the law.

“This is our right as citizens, to share information,” Gema said.

Public reaction to the filter has varied from anger to mockery, with many Indonesians pointing out that plenty of other avenues remain open for accessing pornography.

Kosta said the Blackberry filter doesn’t matter because the majority of people still don’t use the expensive handhelds. Blackberry costs start at $250, far below Apple’s iPhone, $850, or Google’s Android, but still prohibitively expensive for a large portion of the country’s citizens who live near the poverty line.

Blackberry users, meanwhile, said they rely on the push email and Blackberry Messenger service that lets them ping others in their network for free. They don’t use their handhelds to access pornography, they say.

For that, they have Kosta.