JAKARTA, Indonesia's communications and information minister Rudiantara has threatened to shut down Facebook in the country if there is evidence of citizens' personal data being harvested or if it fails to tackle fake news in the upcoming elections.

In an interview, Rudiantara said: "If I have to shut them down, then I will do it."

The minister acknowledged that Indonesia had previously blocked messaging app Telegram. "I did it. I have no hesitation to do it again," he said.

Facebook has come under mounting pressure across the globe following revelations of a major scandal involving the data of 50 million of its users obtained by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

The firm has been linked to US President Donald Trump's election campaign.

The minister said he had sought assurances from Facebook representatives in Indonesia that no Indonesian user's data was among the cache harvested by Cambridge Analytica.

He added that Facebook said it would reply to his query this week.

The minister added that Facebook could face severe penalties if it is found to have failed to comply with Indonesia's regulations. "There are administrative sanctions. I can issue the warning letter to them. There will also be criminal sanctions," he said.

He said employees of the social media giant could face up to 12 years in jail and a fine of up to US$873,000. "I want an undertaking that there were no Indonesian Facebook users whose information or data was used by Cambridge Analytica," he said. "If that is the case, I can chase them, ask the police."

The minister also expressed concern about how personal information of individual voters might be used by domestic and external actors during elections in Indonesia.

He said: "I have to watch out, whether it's internal from within the country or outside of the country. But the most important thing is we have to look at controls for platforms."

"If you are not able to manage your platform to support the stability of Indonesia that means your intention to be in Indonesia is not for business, it's for something else."

Source: NAM News Network

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