March 2006

ICT Policy in Indonesia

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APWKomitel (Associations of Community Internet Centre), work closely with various ICT and Police Departments in Indonesia aspiring to develop a good Internet policy for both (cybercafe) in urban areas and (telecentres) in rural areas.

Internet governance and global Internet penetration
The popular target of World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) was to increase the Internet penetration globally as set by MDG (Millennium Development Goal) and Internet Governance. MDG was declared at U.N. summit on the turn of second millennium. The target was to reduce poverty, illiteracy, and world famine to that of half by the year 2015. They are the basic human rights that were often conveneniently forgotten in the growing eras of industrial advancements. It is trusted that the new millennium, which demarks the beginning of an era for the 'information eonomic' has requisite capabilities of putting an end to the poverty with its technology initiatives that indeed is a big task and social responsibility for the ICT sectors and industry.

Increase in global Internet penetration were declared clearly in the paragraph six of WSIS Geneva Plan of Actions (WSIS GPoA), where all villages, schools, universities and libraries have to be wired by using Community Access Point (CAP) by 2015. 'APWKomitel' refers CAP as 'Public Internet Centre' (PIC) for communities. In Indonesia, it is commonly referred as 'telecentre' in rural areas that usually runs on nonprofit mode and government sponsorship, whereas the 'warnet' (cyber cafes), developed in cities and urban areas, were operated by the SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) on profit basis.

 The set goal also aims to bring fifty percent of the world's population under the cover of the 'information society' by the year 2015. This poses a big challenge for developing countries, as their Internet penetration is usually very low. For instance, Indonesia had 2 millions Internet subscribers (1 percent) and 12 millions Internet users (6 percent), a ratio of 6:1. Indonesia, with a population of 220 millions and moreover, with a projection of more than 20 millions intending to be Internet users by the end of the year 2006. It is still considered to be an insignificant number, as it ranks fourth among the world population. Increase in network penetration continues to be a favorite agenda with the government in setting their national blue print ahead.

Government policy is to open market for competition and forcing incumbents to reduce their price on interconnections. This will further reduce the cost of Internet bandwidth, proliferating further penetration and investment. This is the reason why, many countries still focus and prioritise on these physical targets more in order to give a boost to their campaign and budget rather than on other preferred policy issues such as Internet governance.

Quality vs quantity of Internet
Increase in penetration rate relates more to the quantity and physical infrastructure side of the development. On the other hand, it is the moral and social obligation of development, on how to safe guard better quality, safer Internet and sensible use of the Internet, thereby achieving the aims of WSIS and MDG, where societies have put much more hope on the Information Technology and the Internet to make the future a better world.

It is observed that the progress and development towards information society has became a race between people who intend to use Internet both positively as well as negatively. It is sad to see, a group of people, under the same radar, use Internet for the wrong purposes, termed as 'cyber-crime' indulge in spamming, carding (unauthorised used of credit card), unsolicited email/black mail, child/woman pornography, drugs etc.

Here, policy and Internet governance can play an important role in ensuring that the Internet is put to a better purpose and serve as useful tool for mankind. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, surf in the 'World-Wide-Web' (WWW) means chasing madly after the 'Wild-Wild-West. Considering that, some countries, including Indonesia still have 'cyber law' draft pending in the parliament which is yet to be effective to police the positive use of Internet. The Information Society is also left with no law to protect them, especially in the public domain or access.

Public Internet Centre (PIC) (warnet/cybercafe/telecentre)
In Indonesia, statistics shows that 42 percent of Internet-user access from 'warnet' (Indonesian term for cyber cafe). APWKomitel, with it supportive member strength of cyber cafes and telecentres, takes decisive steps on such PIC development and socialisation. Besides promoting quantified goal of increasing penetration and development of more warnet (PIC), it is also committed and concerned to the moral and social issues of how to have a better and safer environment for these PICs. Majority users of these PICs belong to younger generation who are at ease to adopt emerging technologies and environment hoping to amass the floodgate of opportunities awaiting at the window of the net.

APWKomitel, with its concern and motto 'Where the eGeneration@' observes the unfortunate threats lurking (cyber-crimes) behind these opportunities in public places (PIC). Since many of these warnet and telecentres are not keeping a register of its random users, it has little information about who are using its facility in a particular day, time and terminal. It is even more difficult for investigator or police to trace-route a crime from a public domain (PIC), if there is no Log and registration enforced. ISP and PIC must have a policy or code of conducts (CoC) to retain IP or log of user data, to prevent crime being performed in the PIC. Further, many Internet companies such as Yahoo, Google and Hotmail provides free email, where anyone can easily register his or her mailing account without a proper ID, as these email registrations do not have the tools to check the ID of the email registrants in many of the countries. These dot.com companies are concerned more with quantity of the users rather than the quality of them.

Many of these Internet users remain anonymous adding to the danger of irresponsible use of their act in cyberspace, because they can use nicknames and there are hardly any laws to check them from sending spam, blackmail or any other cyber-crime. Spam does more damage in the developing countries as it consumes scarce and expensive bandwidth that is being provided to the users.

Photo/user authentication tools
APWKomitel had worked out with its partners and members to find solutions for registering user identification in public facilities (PIC). The solution must be affordable, since many of our members are SMEs and some are nonprofit organisations, which cannot afford expensive peripherals for registering and logging the users facilitating the public utilities. The solution also has been effective, cheap and easy. Our research has found that the use of social security and ID card is not effective, since in Indonesia many fake ID are often used by the criminals and there is no centralised single identity numbering system for validation and control.

Moreover, there are more than 4,000 municipal/district local government with their own island of database and there is always possibility that a citizen can have two ID from different local districts. The central government is trying hard to unify and harmonise registration. However, it may take years for the system to be in effect.

Time being, installation of web cam has been suggested, as digital camera is the cheapest available method to collect photo ID of the users in cybercafe/PIC. Photo ID is also difficult to tamper with, since it is not easy to hide one's face or change appearance, while entering a cyber cafe.

Privacy vs public security
It is always a tussle between user-privacy and public-security. It is instructed to put these webcam at the cashier or reception area of the warnet (cybercafe) and not at the working area that erodes the privacy of the internet user at PIC. Such surveillance cameras are commonly sighted in ATM booths or public terminal or supermarket nowadays. APWKomitel has come out with solutions for of the surveillance systems called 'Millennia eBilling Systems' for cyber cafe or telecentre with less than 20 PC (licensed) or stations for USD 100. The system requirements are Windows based PC connected to a local-area-network and Internet router. With this software, cyber cafe/PIC can monitor, the bill and log each of the user or client. The tools are ready for public utility and the challenge of the policy lies in ensuring its efficiency for the purpose of internet-governance.

Cyber shopping triggers e-Commerce boom in India
With online shopping gaining momentum as Indians becoming increasingly tech savvy, cyber cafes are the new hubs where e-Commerce is thriving, says a new survey.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) revealed after a survey that the number of cyber cafes have increased to 105,350 in 2005 as against just 18,000 cafes in 2001. The survey also predicted that the number will swell by 40 percent every year. The report states that cyber cafes have fast evolved into popular access points for e-Commerce and visitors are using them increasingly for doing business and not just for chatting or mailing purposes. The survey revealed that over 47 per cent of the visitors have shopped online more than once during the last six months. While 36 per cent have shopped between two to four times, 23 per cent visitors made purchases more than 10 times. Giving a state wise breakup, the survey stated that 31 per cent of the people of Maharashtra, 16 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 11 per cent in Delhi were using cyber cafes as shopping points. One percent each from Bihar and Punjab were using the kiosks for the purpose.

Book purchases topped the list at (31 per cent), electronic gadgets (41 per cent), railway tickets (37 per cent), music (25 per cent), jewellery and movie tickets (14 per cent each) and beauty products (10 per cent). http://www.hindustantimes.com/

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