The video-sharing website YouTube has been accessible again in Indonesia since 11 April, when communications minister Muhammad Nuh apologised at a news conference for the fact that it had been blocked. The government asked the country’s 146 ISPs to block YouTube on 2 April because the Dutch documentary “Fitna,” regarded by Muslims as “anti-Islamic,” had been posted on the site. Three responded positively to the request.
Google, which owns YouTube, wrote to Nuh on 9 April asking him to submit a list of videos considered illegal so they could be withdrawn from the site and thereby avoid legal videos being pointlessly blocked for Indonesian users.
08.04 - Blocking of YouTube by three ISPs attacked as “excessive”
Reporters Without Borders today denounced as “excessive” the government’s demand that 146 Internet service providers (ISP) block access to the YouTube video website because of the posting on it of a Dutch film, "Fitna," which criticises the Koran.
Three ISPs have yielded to the request since it was made on 2 April, including PT Excelcomindo (one of the country’s biggest mobile phone operators), Indonet and PT Telkom, which together account for most of Indonesia’s Internet subscribers. The three firms are also blocking access to websites MySpace, Metacafe, Rapidshare, Liveleak and Themoviefitna.com.
"The ISPs complying with this demand by blocking an entire site when only part of it is being contested are endangering freedom of expression,” the wordwide press freedom organisation said. “YouTube has never been blocked in this way and as far as we know the country’s ISPs have never before barred access to websites.”
"Fitna" was launched on 27 March on Liveleak.com by its author, Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders, of the conservative Freedom Party, of which he is the sole MP. Two Islamist groups protested against the film on 31 March in front of the Dutch embassy in Jakarta and the Dutch consulate in Medan (northern Sumatra), which led President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono the next day to ban distribution of the film in Indonesia. YouTube remained accessible except for the film. But the day after that, the information and communication ministry asked the 146 ISPs to block access to all of YouTube.
Indonesia ranks 100th in the Reporters Without Borders worldwide press freedom index. Just under 10 per cent of the population has Internet access, mainly through Internet cafés.