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Indonesia sparks outrage by blocking PayPal, gaming sites, for compliance oversight

Yahoo! was blocked too, but … meh

Indonesia has blocked access to PayPal, Yahoo!, plus Epic Games and Steam, sparking outrage among local netizens so fierce that the Ministry responsible has wound back its restrictions on PayPal for a few days.

The bans were flagged in recent weeks after Indonesia required online businesses to register as Private Scope Electronic System Operators – a designation that certifies they've complied with local security and privacy requirements.

Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Informatics set a deadline of July 21 for compliance and registration. As the deadline neared, the Ministry noted that the likes of Amazon and Google appeared not to have filed their paperwork and pointed out that the relevant laws allow it to block non-compliant companies.

Over the weekend the Ministry made good on that threat, taking down several sites – and earning itself a fierce backlash when banning PayPal cut plenty of residents off from financial services.

Gamers also complained long and loud on grounds they'd been deprived of their preferred entertainment – and for some, their income.

The tweet below – which translates as "The government has one job: making things easier. But instead it's made it harder to work. Amazed" – sums up much of the online response. The scornful tone of the video crosses the language barrier.

Kominfo did respond to such protests by lifting the ban on PayPal for five days, in recognition of the service's importance to Indonesians.

But that hasn't stopped the outpouring of negative sentiment towards the agency, some of it calling for blocking of the Ministry's website.

At the time of writing produced a proxy error and pings to the domain timed out, although some subdomains worked. Perhaps those calls to block Kominfo were heeded by folks with enough technical nous to take the Ministry offline.

As Indonesia introduced the requirement for PSE registration in 2020, that anger may be misdirected – the blocked sites have sufficient resources to stay on top of this sort of regulation, and plenty of reasons to do so to target Indonesia's 300-million-plus citizens and fast-growing economy. ®

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