Google, Meta bow to sweeping taxes, content curbs in Indonesia


The US giants were among the last of several Internet media platforms that submitted official business registrations in Indonesia, effectively endorsing the new rules. — AFP

Alphabet Inc’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook have submitted to Indonesian regulations that grant Jakarta sweeping powers to shut down content it deems undesirable and tax digital sales.

The US giants were among the last of several Internet media platforms that submitted official business registrations in Indonesia, effectively endorsing the new rules. Netflix Inc, Spotify Technology SA, Meta Platforms’ Instagram and ByteDance Ltd-owned TikTok have also registered, according to Indonesia’s information ministry.

Social media operators are facing increasing scrutiny from governments around the world as their market dominance grows. The Indonesia regulations allow the government to block services that fail to remove within 24 hours content that could potentially “incite unrest” or “disturb public order”, such as those that promote child pornography or support terrorism. They also allow the government to levy a value-added tax on the sale of digital goods, from content to virtual items.

“There will be warnings, followed by fines and lastly, shutdown of services for those who fail to register,” Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, director general of informatics applications at the ministry, said in a briefing on Tuesday.

US Internet giants, under fire for fake news and their outsized influence on political discourse around the world, are grappling with growing oversight and content restrictions from Europe to India to South-East Asia. Facebook, Google and their peers have said they promote free speech but must abide by local regulations wherever they operate. – Bloomberg

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