Indonesia sets up virtual police to monitor social media discourse

Indonesia sets up virtual police to monitor social media discourse

As a first step, the new police unit aims to monitor, educate and prevent the public from potential cyber crime, and will take harsher actions if their advice is not heeded.

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The police in Indonesia has formed a new unit that will begin monitoring uses on social media to reduce and prevent criminal violations of the Information and Electronic Transaction Act (ITE).

Operating under the auspices of Bareskrim, the national Criminal Investigation Agency, the social media taskforce has already sent warnings to 12 social media users.

Police Brigadier General Slamet Uliandi told local media that the police will look at platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among others.

Content such as texts, videos and images will be flagged and consulted internally with experts skilled in criminal law, language and IT.

Police officers can then send users a warning if the content is deemed to have violated the ITE, such as a defamation or baseless accusation, with details of the post, date and timing, and be advised to delete or amend the post within 24 hours.  If users refuse to heed the advice, the harmed party can file a police report.

This new police unit follows the Indonesia Security Affairs Ministry announcing in December that the virtual police department is aimed primarily at battling hoaxes or comments that will incite public disorder.

Seven social media users or content administrators Facebook and Instagram were arrested last October for inciting riots during protests after the government passed a job creation law.

In a circular issued last month, Indonesian Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo urged officers to use discretion when investigating reports of digital infringements, and to prioritise "restorative justice" such as mediation rather than prosecution.

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