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The hoax phenomenon and the arrest of Saracen group and the Law discussing this needs to be examined further.
The hoax phenomenon and the arrest of Saracen group and the Law discussing this needs to be examined further.
The arrest of cyber hoax propagator with the Facebook name of Saracen, August 7, 2017, attracted a lot of attention from the Indonesian people. This is because society is increasingly becoming victims (albeit sometimes willingly) of hoax news, from racist and political messages, to inaccurate information. The public demanded that this group will be severely punished and is eradicated right down to its roots.   

However, the leader of Saracen, Jasriady, repeatedly stated that he and his group are only representing the people, and have never spread any hoax. This tenacity needs to be underlined and examined further.

Let us look at the definition of hoax. Hoax – according to the Indonesian Great Dictionary (KBBI), means “untrue; lies”, and “fabricated news.” Meanwhile, the punishment of hoax propagators is mentioned in Article 28 paragraph (1) of Law Number 11 Year 2008 on Information and Electronic Transaction (UU ITE), which is, “Each person who intentionally, and without permission spread fabricated and misleading news causing consumer loss in an Electronic Transaction is punishable by six years imprisonment and fine of maximum Rp. 1 billion”, and paragraph (2), which provides the same punishment, but different type of perpetrators, namely “Each person who intentionally and without permission spread information intended to incite hate or animosity from individuals and/or groups based on tribe, religion, race, and social class (or SARA in Indonesian)”.

The problem lies in the multi-interpretation generated by this Law. First, the phrase “intentionally” must be clearly proven, in that the hoax must really be produced out of bad intent. Second, the words “fabricated” and “misleading” are two different things, whereas “fabricated” refers to the action, while “misleading” reflects on the result. In addition, since these two words are connected with a “and” conjunction, both elements must be fulfilled. An example is that when hoax is spread, but does not cause people to be misled. In this case, this fabricated news is not misleading.

Most importantly, this Law provides that hoax spreaders must result in a consumer loss in an Electronic Transaction, and incite hate or animosity. This means that a criminal charge cannot be pressed in the absence of these pre-requisites.

Thus, in future law formulation, the government should consult with linguistic experts and certified language agencies such as the Language Development and Agency or Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa, to prevent interpretation confusion and ambiguity within society.

Then, the Agency formerly known as the Language Center can actively play a role in socializing and disseminating information on the terminology and phraseology of a law, especially to law enforcement officers. That way, when they quote or use such law, the officers have fully understood the meaning contained therein.

By using clearer and more straightforward sentences and words, we hope that in the future, Saracen and other hoax spreading parties cannot evade charges and deny allegations addressed to them.

Wicaksono Prayogie, Policy Analyst, Transformasi, 2017