Indonesia blocks more than 70,000 'negative' sites
February 19, 2018 | 5:00 PM
by Reuters
People use smartphones on a sidewalk in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Jakarta: Indonesia has blocked more than 70,000 websites displaying "negative" content such as extremist ideology in the first month of using a new system to help purge the internet of harmful material, the communications minister told Reuters.

The world's most populous Muslim-majority country has stepped up efforts to control online content after a rise in hoax stories and hate speech, and amid controversial laws pushed by Islamic parties.

The so-called "crawling system" developed by a unit of state-run Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk (Telkom) was launched in January, using 44 servers to search internet content and issue alerts when inappropriate material is found.

"We just put some sort of key words there, most of them are pornographic," said Minister of Communication and Information Rudiantara, who uses one name.

The ministry also acts to get content removed from social media platforms if there are complaints from the public.

Indonesia threatened last year to block Facebook Inc's WhatsApp Messenger, which is widely used in the country.

Authorities also blocked access to some channels on encrypted messaging service Telegram last year, saying it had several forums that were "full of radical and terrorist propaganda".

Rudiantara said the relationship with social media companies and tech giants was improving.

The minister also said that nine tech companies, including Google and Facebook, had recently pledged to help authorities fight fake news and hate speech during upcoming elections in the world's third-biggest democracy.

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