Apple & Microsoft agree to 'rubbery' new content law in Indonesia

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Big Tech companies, including Apple, have registered for licences in Indonesia, which gives local authorities "flexible" and "rubbery" powers to censor platforms.

Ahead of Indonesia's July 20, 2022 deadline, major Big Tech companies appear to have all agreed to the country's new content laws. A total of 207 non-Indonesia companies signed up, reportedly some just hours before the deadline.

According to the Financial Times, signing up to the new regulation means that local authorities can demand content be removed if they disturb "society" or "public order." They can also demand access to the companies' data.

The detail of what data can be demanded, and the definitions of what constitutes public order or societal disturbance, are intentionally vague. The country's Alliance of Independent Journalists described the criteria as "flexible" and "rubbery."

It's not clear when Apple signed up its iCloud platform to the law, and the company has yet to comment publicly. Twitter appears to have signed on the deadline day, where Meta's Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram joined a day before.

Microsoft's cloud service is among the platforms now bound by the laws.

A spokesperson for TikTok told the Financial Times that it had signed up because it "will always comply with the prevailing regulations in any market where we operate." The spokesperson added that that the company believes, "the Indonesian government will honor freedom of expression."

Twitter told the publication only that it remained committed to encouraging an "open internet," and looked forward to working with the Indonesian government.

If firms did not sign up to the new regulations, they would reportedly have first faced warnings, then fines. Ultimately they could banned in the country entirely.

It's far from the first time that Apple has bowed to censorship or potential censorship overseas. Ahead of Russian elections in 2021, Apple and Google both dropped the official opposition app from their app stores.

Both companies later restored the app, but pointlessly as they only did so after the election.