Indonesian Internet Giant Blocks Netflix

Netflix sign  - H 2015
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"The issue is about the permit," says a director at Indonesian telecom giant Telkom. "They don't follow the rules."

Netflix suffered a setback on Wednesday in terms of its ambitions in Indonesia, Southeast Asia's most populous nation.

The country's largest telecommunications provider, Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), majority owned by the Indonesian state, has blocked Netflix from all of its platforms, saying that the U.S. streaming video service had not adhered to local regulations, including acquiring the necessary local permits and submitting content for censorship review.

“We block Netflix as of Jan. 27 at midnight. The issue is about the permit," said Telkom director of consumers Dian Rachmawan, according to the Jakarta Post. "They don’t follow the rules. They also display violence and adult [content]."

The decision was a sign that the streaming giant's global rollout doesn't go without hiccups everywhere. It was also an instance of Netflix receiving mixed or critical messages from the public sector in a country, in this case the one with the largest Muslim population in the world. The Indonesian Censorship Agency (LSF) had previously recommended that the central government ban Netflix on the grounds that the company had not submitted its content for inspection. Indonesia's communications and information minister responded by granting Netflix a grace period to enter Indonesia freely until Feb. 7 for promotion purposes.

The minister said Netflix would need to meet the country's licensing requirements, which involve owning a legal entity in the country, partnering with an Indonesian operator or applying to the ministry for a special content provider license.

"We don’t discuss meetings we have with governments or partners," Netflix said in a statement. "We are always keen to find partnerships and to maintain good relationships with authorities. Netflix is an Internet television network, not a traditional broadcaster. Services delivered over the Internet present all sorts of novel questions for policymakers. To watch anything on Netflix, consumers have to subscribe. We empower consumers to make smart viewing choices by providing details on the titles on Netflix, including ratings and episode synopses. We also provide parental controls."

Authorities in nearby Vietnam are also mulling blocking the service until it obtains a local broadcasting license, according to media reports in the country.

Netflix’s recent expansion into 130 new international markets has also drawn attention from the government in Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy. The country’s film classification board pushed for talks with Netflix, calling its content a threat to national security and kids due to “shockingly explicit eroticism.” Kenya’s Communication Authority said that Netflix was not a traditional broadcaster and does not require licenses to operate in the country, but that its position was under review by the whole government.