|11th March |
updated 28th March
| XXX Episode 27
From The Sydney Morning Herald
The issue of whether or not the world needs a virtual red-light district will be
on the agenda when ICANN's meets again this month in Wellington, New Zealand.
ICANN stands for the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers, and is a US non-profit organisation that oversees top level domain names like .com on behalf
of the US government.
The creation of an .xxx domain was proposed in recent years to take the place of .com in move strongly promoted by the adult entertainment industry in the hope of improving traffic flow to legitimate adult sites and
dramatically easing filtering requirements for other domains.
However the online red-light district has suffered a number of setbacks under growing opposition. Those contesting it have concerns over the legitimisation of pornographic material,
especially in countries where standards might substantially differ from norms in the western world.
Although ICANN's board originally voted in favour of creating the .xxx domain in August last year, a final decision was put on hold after the
reciept of a letter from Michael Gallagher, Assistant Secretary at the US Commerce Department, saying he had received nearly 6000 letters and emails expressing concern about the impact of pornography on families and children and urging further debate.
Approval for the domain was then deferred to a board meeting of ICANN last December, however it was again delayed to allow more time for consultation.
Some have declared this evidence that ICANN is bowing to pressure from the US
government, a topic that was loomed large at the recent World Summit on Information Society in Tunis late last year where governance of the Internet was the subject of strong debate.
The .xxx issue will be firmly back on the agenda in Wellington
with a Government Advisory Committee expected to present its findings at the conference and "further discussions" among international delegates to follow.
|17th March || Update: XXX: A bit of
the old in and out and in again |
A bill introduced on March 16 in the U.S. Senate seeks to
require all commercial websites that provide “material that is harmful to minors” to register and operate within a Top Level Domain set aside specifically for that purpose.
Sponsored by Sens. Max Baucus (Democrat) and Mark Pryor (Democrat), the
“Cyber Safety for Kids Act of 2006” mandates that the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers establish the new international TLD and have it operational within 90 days of the enactment of the bill. The Secretary of Commerce will be
empowered to devise and enforce regulations for the operation of the TLD, and will be responsible for imposing civil penalties on any Web publishers who do not abide by the regulations. Under the legislation, companies that fail to register in the new
domain within six months of the establishment of the new TLD would be subject to civil penalties.
According to the bill, which is not expected to be addressed by the Senate until after it returns from a weeklong recess that begins March 20, The term ‘material that is harmful to minors’ means any communication, picture, image, graphic image file, article, recording, writing, or other matter of any kind that is obscene or that a reasonable person would find…with respect to minors, is designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient interest; depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive manner with respect to minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, an actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual act, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals or post-pubescent female breast; and taking the material as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
Although the bill does not specifically use the term “pornography,” it’s clear from the language that online adult entertainment is exactly what the bill seeks to control. It’s also clear from the language that it is an attempt to approach
certain now-enjoined requirements of the Child Online Protection Act from a different angle, according to First Amendment attorney J.D. Obenberger.
|| Update: XXX: Filtered Out Again |
The United States Government has blocked a plan to create a red-light district in cyberspace.
Icann, the worldwide body that manages the
internet, had been expected to approve website addresses ending in ".xxx" at an international meeting under way in Wellington, but it is understood it will not now vote on the proposal.
Canadian firm ICM Registry has spent five years
and $US2.5 million campaigning for the right to manage.xxx web addresses, for which it would charge $US60 each.
Chairman Stuart Lawley said he was disappointed, but it was not realistic to expect a decision on.xxx in Wellington.
Commerce Department - which created Icann as an independent body to take over its management of the domain name system - raised concerns about proposed mechanisms for managing .xxx websites. But Lawley said he believed it was a "deliberate delaying
tactic". Lawley said this was the third time the US Government had delayed .xxx addresses, and blamed the influence of religious conservatives in the US that appear to have access to the powers that be.
Lawley estimates there are four
million adult websites, owned by 100,000 webmasters.
ICM Registry is not directly involved in the adult Internet industry, but has made no bones that it wants to make money selling .xxx addresses.
The company has won some support for its
argument that setting up the red-light zone in cyberspace would make it easier to filter out adult websites so they could not be seen accidentally or by children.
Liz Butterfield, executive director of New Zealand's nonprofit Internet Safety
Group, said .xxx was potentially positive and saw no reason why such addresses should not be allowed. But she said she doubted the addressing system would stop many adult website owners using other Internet addresses, such as .com.
I think you have got to be realistic about what it would achieve
|4th March |
Updated 14th March
| Bali Bothered by
Burkha Beachwear |
From the Jakarta Post
Also see the
campaigning website at http://jiwamerdeka.blogspot.com ,
About 1,000 protesters here greeted a visiting delegation of legislators deliberating the
Indonesian pornography bill by threatening to organize acts of civil disobedience if it becomes law. We designed the rally to underline the open and tolerant nature of Balinese culture. That's the reason why the rally is filled with traditional art
performances and music concerts, the rally's chief organizer, I Gusti Ngurah Harta, said.
A regional youth leader, who met with the House group, also warned that Bali would secede from Indonesia if the bill took effect. If this bill is
passed, we won't hesitate to leave the Republic of Indonesia, Bali branch head of the Indonesian National Youth Committee, I Putu Gede Indriawan Karna, said to applause as quoted by detik.com.
Protesters came from all walks of life, numbering
community activists, academics and ordinary citizens. There has been widespread opposition to the bill, which critics say goes too far in taking a moralistic approach to clamp down on pornographic materials and obscene acts, which would also include
public displays of affection. Women's rights activists fear women are particularly vulnerable to its misuse, while some ethnic groups, such as the Balinese and Papuans, have nudity as part of their cultural displays.
Balinese arts and
religious beliefs have never considered sensuality and sexuality as an impure, morally reprehensible thing. Instead, sensuality and sexuality are treated as natural, integral parts of our lives as human beings, another rally organizer, Cok Sawitri,
said. In the past, Balinese women never wore a bra, yet the custom did not turn the society into a sex-craving, pornographically demented community.
A participant in the meeting with the legislators said they reminded them that Indonesia
was not a monolithic state where one group could impose its values on the rest.
The bill has blatantly ignored the fact that Indonesia comprises hundreds of ethnic groups with different cultural values and religious beliefs. The bill, which
represents the moral values and belief of one single group, has the potential to cause the disintegration of the state, I Gusti Putu Artha said.
Women's rights activist Luh Anggraeni said the bill discriminated against women. It is as if
the woman is the only party responsible for the nation's moral decadence. Most of the prohibitive articles in the bill are directed at women.
Participants also said the passage of the bill would inflict irreparable damage on the local tourism
industry, the island's economic backbone, already hobbled by a downturn in visitors from two separate bombings in the last four years.
There is an associated Internet campaign site aptly named Jiwa Merdeka (literally meaning
"free soul"). The site, http://jiwamerdeka.blogspot.com , has been in operation since Feb. 22.
On the site, people can read or download
various texts, including the controversial bill, the Bali delegation's opposition statement and a list of the notable figures, who support the opposition, in addition to an enlightening paper on pornography by Prof. Dr. I Made Bandem. Most of the texts
are still in Indonesian buy they are in the process of translating the key documents to English.
The site has already found an "Internet buddy" and ardent supporter in another blog,
http://electronposts.blogspot.com . This blog has explicitly and openly voiced support for Jiwa Merdeka and the struggle against the bill. Most of its recent graphic posts
were dealing with this issue. The latest one portrayed an image of a human torso with an uncovered navel and a question: What's wrong with allowing my belly button to have a peek of reality?
Well, it must be so wrong that the law will impose a
hefty fine up to Rp 1 billion (over US$100,000) and a prison sentence up to ten years for navel displays.
|6th March ||
Update: Navel Gazing in Bali |
Based on an article from the
Following a visit by legislators to Bali, Batam and Papua to gauge public opinion on the pornography bill, it's still a guessing game
whether there will be major changes to the controversial bill.
While House of Representatives special committee chairman Balkan Kaplale promised people in Batam there would be major changes to the draft of the bill, legislator Rustam E. Tamburaka
said in Bali that there may be some exceptions in the bill for Bali and Papua.
Members of the House committee returned Sunday from their visit to the provinces from where people had raised objections to the bill. A group of Balinese
earlier told legislators how eroticism and sensuality were part of their culture.
In a meeting with several groups in Batam, Nutter Balkan had previously asked the participants to contemplate the timeliness of the bill, saying that a series of
recent natural disasters and tragedies that hit Indonesia were "a warning from God". This bill is a part of our efforts to strengthen the moral fiber of the nation, some of which has been damaged , the nutter of the Democrat Party said,
referring to prostitution, human trafficking and the representation of women in adult magazines and tabloids.
Balkan added that of 167 groups and individuals invited by the committee to discuss the bill, only 22 rejected it, including well-known
figures from the art world. However, he was at a loss for words when a number of participants bombarded him with questions.
One participant raised concerns that he would be arrested when going online to view a painting of a nude woman by Italian
artist Michelangelo. Others questioned the possible arrest of athletes, who wear shorts or miniskirts, and models sporting revealing clothing in fashion shows.
Balkan only replied that the draft of the bill, containing 11 chapters and 93
articles, would see major changes during an upcoming deliberation on the bill next week.
However Balkan's colleague, Rustam, said in Denpasar there would be possible exceptions in the implementation of the bill in Bali and Papua due to their
unique cultural traditions. Both regions deserve consideration, he said amid a colorful protest against the bill.
The Golkar Party legislator said that the bill would respect the Papuan tradition of wearing the koteka (penis sheath) as
well as foreign tourists who sunbathe in bikinis, because it is the tradition they bring from their countries. Balinese artists are also allowed to make nude sculptures or paintings, he added. Rustam added that legislators may scrap articles on
penalties, which reach billions of rupiah, but did not elaborate.
Balinese legislator of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle said that she was opposed to the bill despite the fact that she was a member of the committee. It is useless
for the government to discuss such a bill which displeases so many people, because it would waste time and money, she said.
|| Update: Indecent Haste |
From Asia Media
The Indonesian House of Representatives should exercise extra caution before passing the pornography bill into law because many of its contentious articles have not been resolved, a respected Muslim cleric says.
Cleric Mustofa Bisri of the 40-million-strong Nahdlatul Ulama said legislators should listen to the opinions of many people from a variety of backgrounds and faiths before passing the bill into law: The House should
accommodate as many people's aspirations as possible.
Mustofa said the bill contained no clear-cut definition of pornography. The existing vague definition could allow multiple interpretations and cause confusion and
conflict, he said.
The content of the draft bill is currently being disseminated in selected provinces before it is passed. Particularly controversial articles in the law involve regulations on public dress and restrictions on nudity in the media
and art. If the bill became law, women who bare their shoulders or legs or artists who include nudity in their work could be prosecuted for indecency and could be jailed or fined up to Rp 2 billion (US$217,503).
Strongest opposition to the bill
has come from predominantly Hindu Bali, where nudity in certain contexts is an accepted part of the island's art and culture. Balinese also worry that tourism could be affected by the law -- with holidaymakers forbidden from wearing revealing swimming
Balinese protesters have threatened to seek independence from Indonesia if the bill is passed as is. Opposition has also been voiced in Papua, another place where there are few cultural prohibitions on nudity, and in Batam, where tourism
plays an important part in the island's economy.
Women's groups and artists throughout the country are also against the bill, which they say intrudes on personal privacy, curtails creativity and criminalizes women for their sexuality.
Mustofa criticized some Muslim groups that were trying to push the law through the House without proper consultation. The pressure was:
a manifestation of panic from Muslims who have no self-confidence. It seems that certain Muslims are so worried about globalization and are unable to deal with it that they are resorting to speedily passing this law.
First drawn up
in 1999, the bill had been shelved until last year when it was revived after pressure from Muslim-based parties concerned about what they perceived was the moral degradation of the nation.
A House legislator said the bill showed tolerance for
pluralism was waning in this multi-religious and multicultural society. Sidharto Danusubroto of the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle said pluralism was under threat as long the pornography bill existed in its present form: There are certain
groups who are forcing their ideology on others.
Entertainment and tourism businesspeople in Batam have also now expressed their concerns over the controversial pornography bill following a meeting with a House special committee, but received
little assurance their worries would be addressed.
At the meeting with the committee from the House of Representatives on Saturday, the businesspeople raised fears the bill, if passed into law, would have a negative impact on the island's tourism
and entertainment sectors, as well as restrict people's freedom of expression.
Deputy head of investment and promotion at the Batam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), Jadi Rajagukguk, said: The draft bill is like the seed of a disease,
and will make foreign tourists afraid to come to Indonesia.
Jadi said that even before the bill had been passed into law, Barelang Police had started warning shops against selling revealing clothing and women not to wear such clothing in
public, causing concern among the community. We heard that one shop opted to close after being warned by the police, and there are many shoppers at the malls who fear that the way they dress might cause the police to target them.
|13th March || Update:
Revealing More Opposition to Burkha Beachwear |
From Green Left
At the forefront of the parties in parliament supporting the Burkha Beachwear bill is the Justice and Welfare Party (PKS), which has strong Islamic fundamentalist perspectives.
Other parties have
vacillated or refused to take a clear stand on the law during the past year, but are being increasingly pressured to either reject or revise the bill. Politicians from the more mainstream political parties have come out in opposition to the bill. Both
members of parliament from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), as well as its chairperson Megawati Sukarnoputri, have now stated their opposition to the law.
What appears to have tipped the balance in the
world of elite politics is increasing fear of a threat to cultural pluralism in a society that has no single dominant cultural perspective.
Now former Golkar chairperson Akbar Tanjung has weighed in against the bill, arguing that there can be no
national law that cannot be implemented in specific provinces. However it is not clear whether these mainstream parties will reject the bill or simply soften it. Vivi Widyawati, from Women’s Freedom in Jakarta, told Green Left Weekly that the campaign
against the bill has created quite a polemic and is forcing pressure for revision. But it is not looking good for getting the bill stopped given the ambivalent stand of most of the parties.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has remained
silent, emboldening the PKS and other supporters of the bill. Yudhoyono’s party, the Democrat Party, has so far supported the UUAPP.
There are strong fears that the passing of the bill will open the way for greater oppression of women. Even
before it has passed, said Widyawati, there have been repressive actions. In some areas, raids and arrests have already started ... This is hitting poor women particular hard. For example, in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, they have
instituted a curfew for women. Three women were arrested and fined. In other areas, the sense that the law will be passed has emboldened local governments to decree the wearing of Muslim dress for women. Local governments have issued regulations
against prostitution, under which women have been detained and sentenced simply because they were out alone at night.
In the island of Batam, just 20 minutes from Singapore by ferry, there have been increasing raids on shopping malls where women
have been warned about wearing “provocative” clothes, such as sleeveless tops. In Aceh, there have been arrests of women walking with men who were not their husbands or relatives.
Not all Islamic groupings are supporting the bill. Various Islamic
figures from the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the organisation that former President Abdurrahman Wahid headed for 20 years, have called on the bill to be revised and have criticised the stand taken by other Muslim organisations. One such cleric, Mustofa Bisri,
was quoted in the Jakarta Post on March 6 as saying that some Muslim groups were attempting to push the law through parliament without proper consultation.
Islamic student organisations, such as the Indonesian Islamic Student Union (PMII) and the
Association of NU Young Men and Women (IPPNU) have also outright rejected the bill.
From the Jakarta Post
Meanwhile lawmakers actually drafting the controversial pornography bill plan to do it in secret away from the critical eye of the media at an undisclosed hotel in Puncak, some 60 kilometers south of Jakarta.
Members of the special committee are
tasked with listing contentious issues before the bill is submitted to a joint House of Representatives-ministerial committee for further scrutiny.
Legislator Balkan Kaplale of the Democratic Party, who chairs the committee, said
"biased" reporting on the legislation only added fuel to the controversy: The media tends to run stories favoring those opposing the bill. This is unfair, he said at a meeting with Muslim activists who support the draft law.
Legislator Chairunnisa of the Golkar Party said the special team would hear opinions from 10 major political factions about the draft law. It will be the first time the House factions present their formal stances on the bill. So far, the only party that openly supports the bill is the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS):
Each faction is expected to submit a list of articles they deem contentious, Chairunnisa said.
Next week, they are expected to produce a list of the contentious articles and submit it along with the bill to the government. President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono will then read the bill and appoint several Cabinet ministers to work with the legislators on redrafting it before it is submitted to the House for debate. The President can reject the bill at this stage, sending it back to the initial
House drafting team, although his approval is normally a formality.
|14th March || Update:
Indonesia on the Brink of Collapse |
From the Jakarta Post
The pornography bill will focus on pornographic materials and their distribution, and do away with the vague definitions on content and personal conduct, the chairman of the House committee deliberating the bill said
Balkan Kaplale told The Jakarta Post that while there were disagreements among the committee members, they agreed that the bill should target curbing the distribution of pornographic materials: Pornographic products could be in the
form of films, video cassettes, pictures printed and broadcast by mass media.
However, his deputy, Agung Sasongko of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said he walked out of an earlier committee meeting because it was not
possible to begin redrafting the bill with input from the public still pouring in.
The PDI-P, the party which has expressed the most vocal opposition to the bill and controls 109 of 550 House seats, has requested a delay of at least six months
from the committee's deadline for passage in April.
The executive director of the Center for Indonesian Law and Policy Studies, Bivitri Susanti, also urged legislators to focus on strict regulation of the distribution of pornography and the porn
industry, instead of dealing with clamping down on obscene acts.
From Asia Media
Contentious clauses in the pornography bill, which has been assailed for encroaching on personal
rights, will be dismantled as deliberations enter a critical stage, a House leader said.
Balkan Kaplele, the legislator and chairman of the special committee finalizing the bill, refused to specify which articles would be rewritten, but said the
law would focus on general definitions of pornography and obscenity: We've taken quite a number of controversial clauses off the bill, particularly those which criminalize particular conduct. However, legislators are set to redefine the term
pornography, considered vague and subject to varied interpretations under the bill.
The bill, initially proposed in 1999 and officially titled the Anti-Pornography and Pornographic Acts Bill, has gained its strongest support from orthodox Muslim
groups. Thousands gathered Sunday at Al-Azhar mosque in South Jakarta to urge the government to quickly pass the bill into law.
Balkan's promise of major changes followed an announcement Friday by the Golkar Party and Indonesian Democratic Party
of Struggle (PDI-P), the two largest factions in the House, that they would strive to ensure it respected pluralism.
Another expected change is the removal of a clause on the establishment of an agency to oversee the implementation of standards
of decency. Balkan said the task would be entrusted to the police: All breaches of the law on pornography and obscenity will be dealt with using the Criminal Code and relevant laws, while the police will have the authority to oversee the enforcement.
Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin, who hosted the discussion, said the country needed a pornography law to "reverse the situation" of an increasingly liberal society: We are concerned by the moral
liberalization that will lead the nation to the brink of collapse, unless it is stopped as soon as possible.
|23rd March ||
Update: Presidential Dressing Down |
From the China Post
Legislation proposed by Muslim legislators to ban pornography and obscene acts in Indonesia will not affect whether scantily-clad tourists can sunbathe on the resort island of Bali, Indonesia's vice president said Monday.
Jusuf Kalla was responding to fears among members of the island's Hindu enclave that the bill would have a chilling effect on its tourist industry by criminalizing sunbathing, as well as being incompatible with its Hindu culture.
worry, we (the government) don't agree (with everything in the bill), Kalla told tourist chiefs on the island. I am sure if it is passed, it will not wreck your rights. All the political parties are listening to your
|27th March || Update:
Rallying for Obscene Law |
From the Daily Times
thousand Muslims rallied in Indonesia's capital on Sunday to support a proposed law banning pornography and obscene acts .
The protesters, including many women and young children, chanted "We refuse pornography!" as they gathered under
gloomy skies in Jakarta to press parliament to pass the bill, which is supported by conservative Islamic politicians and preachers.
Those who only see this issue from a human rights, liberal and secular point of view are trying to disrupt
efforts to curb pornography, said Ma'ruf Amin, a member of Indonesia's council of clerics.
|31st January || Cyber Snitches |
Based on an
article f rom Manager Online
The Thai Information and Communication Technology Ministry (ICT) is taking another crack at
banishing pornography from the country, this time by using hundreds of cyber snitches and closed-circuit television (CCTV) in post offices.
Just a few months after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that the government would begin to shift
its focus to an agenda aimed at curing social ills, including pornography, ICT Minister Sora-at Klinpratoom said earlier this week that today will see the start of an initiative that will be executed by hundreds of employees and backed by tougher
regulations, with the aim of ensuring that the country’s decency laws are observed.
The ICT has been blocking illegal websites for years, but, according to a spokesman, it has been nearly impossible to stop people from surfing illegal sites
, due to the open nature of internet communication technology and the proliferation of websites with obscene content. The ministry estimates that there are more than one million websites with content that violates the law, and these pornographic
websites get about one million hits from inside Thailand every day, Sora-at said yesterday.
So far, the ICT has gathered a list of fewer than 2,000 websites with content that is deemed illegal, and has requested that internet service providers
(ISPs), such as CAT Telecom (CAT), True and CS Loxinfo, block their users from accessing the sites.
Most internet users access the web through a handful of licensed service providers, all of whom can filter out material from banned websites, said
a spokesman at CAT. Every [ISP] has a proxy server and all data go through that server before they appear on subscribers’ computers, he said. So, it is easy for ISPs to filter content. Users usually don’t even know about the filtration process, as
banned sites will often come up with normal error messages or “request denied” pages, he said.
The ministry spokesman said that, although they are difficult to breach, filters can stop access to specified websites only, and the ICT has not yet
been able to identify every website which violates Thai law.
To get around the problem, the ministry has employed hundreds of so-called “cyber inspectors,” who scour the internet to identify websites with nudity or other obscene material. The ICT
has its own website, where citizens can report potentially illegal web content, and it recently began giving away parental control software.
Starting today, the ministry is sponsoring a radio show which parents can call to report illegal websites
and receive advice on how to monitor their children’s internet usage. It has installed a telephone hotline and is monitoring post office boxes to catch people who send printed pornography through the mail.
People can rent post office boxes,
but they don’t have to register their names, [and] so, they can use them to send [pornographic] DVDs, books [and] CDs. Starting [today], everyone has to register to have a post office box number, and we will soon have CCTV in some post offices, the
ministry spokesman said.
The ministry does not have an estimate of the number of people it suspects of viewing online pornography, but if internet porn is as widespread as estimated by Sora-at, the government’s efforts to block websites will have
little impact, said telecommunications analysts, who expressed doubt over the government’s ability to stop people from accessing online pornography sites, even with the new policies and the cooperation of ISPs.