Indonesia threatens to close down Blackberry

Through his twitter account, Indonesia's Minister of Communication and Information Tifatul Sembiring accused Blackberry Research In Motion (RIM) of being unresponsive to the demand of the government to filter pornographic content via its browser. He added that if RIM doesn't comply with the demand by January 21, the government will block Blackberry's browser.

Tifatul is a member of an Islamic political party which is known to be a strict follower and enforcer of Shariah laws.

Responding to his latest anti-porn tweet, many twitter users in Indonesia started to use the #bbsyariah hashtag. Here are some twitter reactions:

dreamofDaru: #BBSyariah klo ditimeline ada yg ngetweet ‘Babi,Anjing’ henpon harus dicuci pake tanah 7x. #tif

If someone curses saying the word ‘pig’ or ‘dog’, the phone has to be sanctified 7 times with dirt.

imanbr: Flirting di BB kepada bukan muhrim. muncul emoticon cambuk, rajam #BBSyariah

Flirting on BB with those who are not their mahram (spouse) will automatically generate flog or stone emoticons.

fanabis: #bbsyariah nama bb berubah jd ALblackberryah :

BB will change its name into ALBlackberryah

WicakTP04: Pak @tifsembiring silahkan lihat hashtag #BBSyariah. Gara2 kebijakan Anda, skrg Islam jadi dipermainkan.

Mr. Tif Sembiring, please read #BBSyariah. Thanks to your regulations, Islam is now being ridiculed.

After harvesting protests from the Indonesian tech savvy community, Tifatul then said that porn filtering push was not the main issue with RIM. He then came up with other demands and opinions while piggy backing on nationalism and homeland security issues to gain support.

And it somehow worked. He gained some support from legislators, local politicians, and some of the people who were initially skeptical about his initial demand. According to IT consultant Daniel Tumiwa , some of Tifatul's demands are already complied by RIM. Here (id) are several of the demands and Daniel's twitter arguments summarized by Baban Sarbana:

TS: Kita minta RIM agar buka perwakilan di Indonesia, karena pelanggan RIM di Indonesia untuk Blackberry sdh lbh dari 2 juta. #RIM
DT: #RIM sdh buka kantor Okt 10. BKKPM hadir. Dibuka olh Menteri Keuangan Kanada. Bpk Tidak hadir?
TS: Kita Minta RIM agar membuka service center di Indonesia untuk melayani & mudahkan pelanggan mereka yg juga WNI. #RIM
DT: RIM sudah punya belasan Srvc Center dan akan punya lebih dr 30 di thn ‘11. Done.
TS: Kita minta RIM agar merekrut dan menyerap tenaga kerja Indonesia secara layak dan proporsional. #RIM
DT: Done. Setahu sy Expat hanya 2. Sisa staff WNI. Done.
TS: Kita minta RIM agar sebanyak mungkin menggunakan konten lokal Indonesia, khususnya mengenai software. #RIM

T: RIM should open a representative office in Indonesia to cater more than 2 million Blackberry users
D: RIM innaugurated its Indonesian representative in October 2010, attended by Canadian Finance Minister and The Coordinating Board for Investment (BKPM). Weren't you there?
T: RIM should open service center in Indonesia.
D: RIM has dozens of service centers, will reach 30 in 2011. Done.
T: RIM should hire local workers.
D: Done. There are only 2 expat managers while the rest are Indonesian citizens.
T: RIM should use local content and softwares.
D: RIM is not a content provider, but handset maker and service provider.

Blogger Rob Baiton who blogs at The RAB Experience, found Tifatul's crusade “bizarre”:

So desperate is TitS (author's note: blogger's nickname for Tifatul Sembiring) to beat down RIM he has gone outside his mandate to try and portray this spat as one that has a nationalist pride angle to it. In fact, TitS has decided that, in his opinion, RIM is a marauding infidel invader that has only come to Indonesia to rape and pillage her of her resources and wealth, and pay no taxes into the bargain.

Taxes are generally the domain of the Minister For Finance, and perhaps the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, but generally taxes are not the primary concern of ministers in other fields. In light of the TitS charge, it is worth asking whether RIM pays its dues. The reality is, if RIM has not been paying its financial obligations then why has it taken a spat over porn filters to make this publicly known?

Thumbnail from the Flickr page of basibanget used under CC License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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