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Pacific Rim Job: Blackberry Agrees to Filter Porn from Indonesia

Filters should be in place within four days, promises Research in Motion

Pacific Rim Job: Blackberry Agrees to Filter Porn from Indonesia

JAKARTA—2010 was a year of intense criticism and censorship of online porn by the government of Indonesia, a nation that boasts the largest population of Muslims in the world. In July, the government announced plans to require the country’s 180 internet service providers to filter out access to any porn sites. In August, it announced that 4 million sites had been blocked. In October, the country’s Communications and Information Technology Minister criticized a visit to the country by adult star Tera Patrick. And now the country has succeeded in getting Research in Motion (RiM) to agree to make adult content inaccessible by Blackberry users in the country.

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Though still upsetting to free speech advocates, the decision by RiM comes as no surprise. As far back as August, Tifatul Sembiring, the same government minister who complained about Tera Patrick’s visit to the country threatened to kick Rim out of the country if it did not install filters that blocked access to porn. A deadline of Jan. 21 was set, past which the government would begin legal proceedings if RiM did not comply.

Monday, the Canadian company did just that when it announced that it would comply with the mandate, and would have filters installed within four days, just making the deadline. Gatot Dewabroto, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Communication and Information, said that RiM promised during meetings held last week to have filters in place within 100 hours of the meeting, and that because of those assurances the country would not need to enforce or extend the deadline.

Communications Minister Sembiring took a somewhat harder line, however, in comments made to the Indonesian parliament, saying he would not extend the deadline and fully expected Blackberry to follow through on its commitment.

'If RIM doesn't shut down pornography sites on Jan 21, we'll begin a legal process,” he said. “We'll ask for these commitments to be put in black and white.”

The ultimate threat for Blackberry, of course, would be to lose its foothold in the populous country, where the company earns about $251 million per year from the country's 3 million BlackBerry users, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The official Blackberry blog had no mention of the agreement Monday, but Reuters quoted Gregory Wade, director of Asia Pacific for RIM, following a meeting with Indonesian government officials, as saying, "We're committed to the Indonesian marketplace to provide a solution that satisfies the requirements—particularly by the ministry. We're very much focused on meeting the timelines and deadlines that have been discussed."






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Tom Hymes

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