Indonesian Sex Videos May Trigger Internet Crackdown

President Backs Web Curbs After 'Peterporn' Goes Viral

With millions of Indonesian absolutely transfixed for almost a month
over the widespread distribution of homemade videotapes involving three
popular local celebrities involved in hardcore sex, the matter has
started to take on more ominous overtones. Friday President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono said he would lend his support for a filter to block
pornography on the Internet.

Given Indonesia's uncertain
flirtation with a more conservative Islamic society, the videotapes are
raising concerns among liberals that the pace will pick up. An
Anti-Pornography Act was pushed through in 2008 more because Yudhoyono
and his nominal allies believed they needed the conservative Islamic
vote in 2009 elections than because of any public outrage.

Prosecutors,
the judiciary and the police largely ignored the law, saying it was too
vague to enforce in a variegated country made up of a vast collection
of ethnic groups and religious groupings ranging from largely Hindu
Bali, where village traditions remain strong, to Papua, where penis
gourds are still common in the hinterlands; to Jakarta, with its
nightclubs, malls and glitz; and to liberal, largely Christian north
Sulawesi.

Today, however, in the House of Representatives
lawmakers now are lining up behind plans by Information Technology
Minister Tifatul Sembiring of the conservative Islamist Prosperous
Justice Party to use the scandal to revive a move to filter the Web for
content deemed "negative" and immoral. Sembirang said he would
promulgate a decree by the end of the year to "save the young" from
Internet porn. Religious leaders, parents and others have been lining up
to support controlling the Web as well. On Sunday, Megawati
Sukarnoputri, the leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle,
added her voice, saying the law should be enforced in the video case.

"This
case has caused many women concern, including me. Why do the public and
the younger generations consume this kind of thing?" Megawati told
reporters.

Even China has backed away from an Internet filter.
But Indonesia, 86 percent of whose 243 million residents are Muslim, has
been alternatively scandalized and titillated by the online release of
the films, which allegedly featured Nazril Ilham, 28, an Indonesian rock
star known as Ariel, and television personalities Luna Maya, 26, and
Cut Tari, 32. All have denied being in the films, saying those filmed
were someone else. Because Ariel sings with a group called Peterpan, the
films have inevitably been dubbed Peterporn.

The ubiquity of
the films, in three episodes, is astonishing. They have seemingly been
watched by half the country, with whole offices in Jakarta watching them
together in the days since they apparently were uploaded for the first
time on May 22. Some 40 million Indonesians have access to the Internet.
Schools have been searching students' pockets to confiscate DVDs. They
have appeared not only on the Web but on cellphones and emails,
spreading to social networking sites and local Internet forums, where
links to downloads of the video were widely shared. The videos began
appearing on BlackBerries, Twitter and Facebook.

The three
celebrities have been hauled in for questioning, the latest last Friday,
to emerge again before the television cameras, looking alternatively
remorseful and intimidated. Police had said they planned to physically
examine Ariel and Luna, presumably to try to match distinguishing body
features with those seen in the clips.

None of the three have
confessed to being in the films and police have declined to say who the
actors in the videos are. "Ariel and Luna still have not admitted that
the videos are theirs," said Brig. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution, the
director of transnational crime, adding that the police will not push
them to confess. They could face up to 12 years in jail.

Six
other individuals, however, have been hauled in for questioning. "The
six have not been arrested," Saud said. "They are being questioned until
we find out who was the first person to upload the videos. We are
assisted by six experts and we are applying scientific methods."

Yudhoyono
had so far been careful to steer away from the scandal. But on Friday,
cornered by reporters, he said he supports the steps taken by the
police.

"They have investigated who duplicated the videos and
distributed them," Yudhoyono said. "Whoever did it, the law must be
upheld. I will keep supporting it." Then he went on to say that "In
relation to an open society, an information society, we have
increasingly realized that the country should not stay naked and be
steamrolled by an information technology frenzy, as the stakes are huge.
Other countries have already have regulations on this ... The incident
has made us think about the best thing that should be done. Negative
impacts on our society should be avoided."

The fact is that in
Indonesia, supposedly a conservative Islamic country, amazing numbers of
teenagers not only regularly watch pornography but engage in sex
regularly. Indonesian Child Protection Commission vice chairwoman Masnah
Sari reported in May that a survey of 4,500 teenagers aged between 14
and 18 in Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya, found that 93 percent had
engaged in oral sex and 21.2 percent of the girls had had an abortion.

The
survey was almost immediately disowned by Hadi Supeno, the head of the
child protection commission, who said no such survey had been conducted.
Nonetheless, Supeno told reporters, a much smaller survey found that 32
percent of teenagers in several cities claimed to have had sexual
intercourse and that they had easy access to pornography through either
the Internet or DVD sellers. Teenagers from upper middle class families
told the survey they had learned about sex from their nightlife, going
to night clubs. Certainly anecdotal evidence indicates that pornography
is available right down to the lowest village level and is watched by
everybody – boys and girls as well.

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