Indonesia blocks Yahoo, PayPal, gaming websites over licence breaches

Indonesia blocks Yahoo, PayPal, gaming websites over licence breaches
The PayPal app logo seen on a mobile phone in this illustration photo Oct 16, 2017. (File photo: REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration)

JAKARTA: Indonesia has blocked search engine website Yahoo, payments firm PayPal and several gaming websites due to failure to comply with licensing rules, an official said on Saturday (Jul 30), sparking a backlash on social media.

Registration is required under rules released in late November 2020 and will give authorities broad powers to compel platforms to disclose data of certain users, and take down content deemed unlawful or that “disturbs public order” within four hours if urgent and 24 hours if not.

Several tech companies had rushed to register in days leading up to the deadline, which had been extended until Friday, including Meta Platforms’ Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as Amazon.

Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, a senior official at Indonesia’s Communications Ministry, said in a text message that websites that have been blocked include Yahoo, PayPal and gaming sites like Steam, Dota2, Counter-Strike and Epic Games, among others.

PayPal, Yahoo’s parent private equity firm Apollo Global Management and US game developer Valve Corporation, which runs Steam, Dota and Counter-Strike, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Epic Games could not be reached for comment.

Hashtags like “BlokirKominfo” (block Communication Ministry), Epic Games and PayPal trended on Indonesian Twitter, with many writing messages criticising the government’s move as hurting Indonesia’s online gaming industry and freelance workers who use PayPal.

Pangerapan said the government will find a solution for people to withdraw their deposits from PayPal, which may include reopening access to its website for a short period, he told Metro TV.

Authorities would unblock the websites if they comply with registration rules, he said, defending the measure as protection for Indonesian Internet users.

With an estimated 191 million Internet users and a young, social-media savvy population, the Southeast Asian nation is a significant market for a host of tech platforms.

Source: Reuters/gs