Johnny Plate, Minister of Communication and Information Technology: Interview

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Johnny Plate, Minister of Communication and Information Technology

Interview: Johnny Plate

How do you foresee the development of e-government services over the 2020-25 period?

JOHNNY PLATE: Speed of service is key to bureaucratic reform, and we are applying ICT solutions for government tasks. We are heavily focused on creating an ecosystem where bureaucracy is supportive of the growth of the digital economy. As of 2020 the majority of government institutions are implementing e-services. A positive example has been the successful application of technology to ensure the rapid registration of new companies and allocation of business permits. Applying technology and innovation in the public sector has increased the efficiency of services such as civil registrations, health care, taxes and land registration. New opportunities are also being offered through the creation of government portals, including those pertaining to education, housing, communication, environment, health care and tourism. Our current data management and analysis system will be transformed under the One Data Policy system into an integrated, harmonised database across government bodies to support policy-making.

In what ways can Indonesia accelerate the growth of the broader digital economy?

PLATE: The government is committed to developing the digital economy. Indeed, President Joko Widodo has highlighted its potential as one of the country’s key growth opportunities. Many private sector players are already expanding rapidly in the digital sphere, thanks to an enabling policy environment. Indonesians are technologically literate and natural entrepreneurs, but they also need strong digital infrastructure and internet connection. The Palapa Ring broadband project will go a long way in ensuring nationwide 4G access. The project comprises over 35,000 km of land and sea cables, and can facilitate speeds of up to 100 Gbps. Social distancing measures during Covid-19 have shifted some core economic behaviours, and I expect more players to enter the digital economy as a result of these changes.

What can be done to improve connectivity, and how can digital technology limit the spread of Covid-19?

PLATE: Our ministry is an accelerator and a facilitator of rural growth. The development of digital infrastructure throughout Indonesia is extremely important. We are working closely with various stakeholders, including regional governments, to improve connectivity. This is important in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, as it necessitates the availability of accurate information for all Indonesians, especially those who are vulnerable or far from health care services. We have, alongside cellular operators, developed a public information protocol in partnership with WhatsApp, Facebook and Telkom, and a chatbot for Indonesians to access information related to the pandemic. Start-ups and digital technology enterprises have altered their business practices, helping to limit the spread of the virus by offering delivery and other at-home services.

To what extent are reforms needed to ensure the protection of private and corporate data?

PLATE: The government acknowledges the crucial need for legislation to ensure personal data protection, and we have prioritised General Data Protection Regulation for discussion in Parliament. The regulation will cover data collection, processing, security and the right to erasure. We intend to go beyond just data protection: we also want to protect ICT stakeholders and their interest in advancing the sector. Allowing for legal cross-border data transfers and tackling the rise of cybercrime are also priorities. The cross-border data flow act will include a bilateral and multilateral data governance framework, based on the principles of data sovereignty and security, and owner rights and permission. With regard to cybercrime, the Financial Services Authority reports that many cyberthreats occur in the form of illegal activity undertaken by peer-to-peer lenders. We need to ensure that citizens’ personal information is protected and that these illegal lenders are shut down.

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