The Communications and Information Minister of Indonesia has said that anyone found tweeting content that violates the law could face between 7 and 12 years in prison.
Minister Tifatul Sembiring said this week that he was actively seeking Twitter accounts that broke the law or tweeted insults and attacks towards others – even if those accounts were anonymous or lacked identifying information.
The Jakarta Globe reports that Minister Sembiring warned Indonesians that the government was willing to seek out anonymous users found misusing Twitter:
“If they violate the laws, they will be punished. Principally, every account user could be held responsible by tracing his position and device.”
Specifically, there are five violations of the Information and Electronic Transactions that could land someone in jail: pornography, gambling, threats, fraud and blasphemy. If they tweet any of these things, they could face up to 12 years behind bars.
Of course, it will be difficult for the government to pinpoint what is a threat or fraud, and what is just a humorous parody account. And taking a move against a Twitter user – especially one who has intentionally kept their identifying information hidden – for insulting someone will no doubt have the privacy and free speech advocates up in arms.
This news comes close on the heels of Twitter’s much-analyzed new stance on censorship, which would see the company censor tweets and accounts that were illegal in a specific country, but only withhold them from users residing in that particular country. There’s no indication as to whether Indonesia will request that Twitter censor content before they move to charge and jail an offender, but the option is now there.