Indonesia offers clarification on Tumblr ban over pornography, LGBT content

A government panel screening Internet for pornography says 477 websites have explicit content.

Indonesia has retracted a total ban on microblogging and social networking site Tumblr over pornographic content.

The Communications and Information Ministry said on Thursday it "reached out to Tumblr to practice self-censorship and to take action so that existing content adheres to community values."

"Tumblr does not entirely consist of pornographic content. And it is not possible for internet service providers to individually block accounts on Tumblr that carry objectionable content," the ministry said in a press release.

The panel on pornography, violence on children and internet security, will hold follow-up meetings to evaluate the extent to which the results of the engagement with Tumblr can be executed."

The ministry earlier said it was blocking Tumblr over pornography and content related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relationships.

The latest clampdown on gay and lesbian rights in the conservative country followed government censuring of popular smartphone messaging app Line for making available emoticons with gay themes in its online store.

The e-business director of the communications and information ministry, Azhar Hasyim, said the move against Tumblr was in line with the 2008 Pornography Law.

"If Tumblr then agrees to block pornography and LGBT content from being accessed in Indonesia, we will open [access to] the website again," he told the Jakarta Post.

A government panel screening Internet for pornography said 477 websites had explicit content.

Tumblr did not respond to the move but Indonesian officials said the company was not informed about the decision either.

"We must ban the site first and tell them later," Azhar said.

Meanwhile, Mashable reported the authorities retracted the outright ban and asked Tumblr to "self censor" its pornographic content.

The move followed outrage from Tumblr users in the country, the report said.

State-owned Telekom Indonesia, the largest internet service provider in the country, had blocked Netflix in January over its content offering.

Though the Indonesian government officially supports plurality in society, homosexuality still remains a highly sensitive matter with several reported incidents of irate public targeting gay people.

The government communiqué last week also asked WhatsApp to remove gay-themed emoticons, adding that all social media and messaging platforms should stop using icons expressing support for the LGBT community.