Tifatul Says BlackBerry Fight More Than Just About Porn

By webadmin on 06:42 pm Jan 12, 2011
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Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Ismira Lutfia

In a new twist to the communication minister’s campaign to block BlackBerry users from accessing porn sites, his party is now saying the move is ultimately to protest against the maker of the smartphones and its business practices in Indonesia.

Communication Minister Tifatul Sembiring has given Research in Motion, the Canadian company behind the wildly popular BlackBerry device, until Jan. 27 to filter its BlackBerry Web services for pornography, or risk losing its license to operate in the country.

On Tuesday, Machfud Siddiq, a legislator from Tifatul’s Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said the campaign was more than just about blocking porn.

He said the main purpose of the ultimatum was to highlight how RIM was “taking too much money from Indonesians without even paying any taxes here.”

“The company brings no economic benefits to Indonesia, yet they take so much money from here,” he said.

“And because the company is based in Canada, it pays taxes there, not here.”

“So this isn’t just about Web filtering,” Machfud added. “It’s about justice in doing business. Indonesia shouldn’t be treated like a cash cow.”

RIM is not required to pay taxes in Indonesia because it is not involved in the retail sale of its phones in the country.

Instead, BlackBerrys are imported by authorized local agents, who pay the requisite customs and excise fees and government sales taxes for the phones, as well as their own corporate taxes.

There are an estimated two million BlackBerry users in Indonesia, out of the total 11.9 million worldwide, making it one of RIM’s biggest markets.

Machfud said Indonesian consumers should support the government’s efforts to push large corporations to invest and create jobs in the country.

Tifatul on Tuesday again took to Twitter to explain his campaign against RIM and try to get Indonesians on his side.

In his messages, the minister claimed there were three million registered BlackBerry users in the country and another one million using black-market phones.

“With an average monthly subscription fee of $7 per customer, RIM makes a net income of Rp 189 billion [$21 million] a month or Rp 2.268 trillion a year,” he wrote.

“That’s the Indonesian people’s money going to RIM,” the minister tweeted.

However, the subscription fee is paid to the local carriers offering BlackBerry Messenger and push-mail services.

Tifatul claimed RIM was making all this money without paying taxes to the Indonesian government or building network infrastructure here.

“Is it wrong to ask for a slice of the pie for Indonesia, such as the hiring of local people, the inclusion of more local content and compliance with local laws and regulations?” Tifatul tweeted.

The minister added, “Do we have to give RIM privileges and exceptions? Do we always have to bow to foreign [entities]? Is it arrogant to remind foreigners to respect our laws and regulations? [Let’s] demand greater rights for our respected nation.”