After successfully bullying BlackBerry to block porn access from its devices, the Indonesian government now thinks it might be a good idea to fine BlackBerry IDR 1,000 ($0.10) per subscriber if BlackBerry messaging service, the ubiquitous BBM, suffers another outage for over four hours. With BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) having about 15 million subscribers in Indonesia, that will amount to $1.5 million.
Where will the money go?
The scheme proposed by Indonesia’s telecoms regulator (BRTI) is simple. After the next BBM outage occurs, BlackBerry has to directly refund Indonesian subscribers to their phone credit. This past month alone, there have been two major outages, which theoretically would’ve cost BlackBerry $3 million.
Pushing for local server
The harsh reaction to BlackBerry from the Indonesian government may be because BlackBerry hasn’t yet fulfilled its promise to build a local server for BlackBerry’s encrypted services in Indonesia; the government claims that’s necessary to monitor criminals and terrorists who might be using the secure messaging platform to communicate. The government also argues that local servers may help in case of a global service outage so that the service would still operate inside the country.
Setting a new precedence
If the regulator’s proposal is enforced in future, other online services like Skype or Whatsapp could be fined as well. To a certain degree, it may push companies to be more reliable, which would be good for web users. But it’s odd to see that this is being pushed on BlackBerry, knowing that phone and internet service providers (ISP) like Telkomsel and Smartfren have suffered similarly prolonged outages but were not fined by the government. Telkomsel and Smartfren, however, compensate their subscribers by giving extra data for their internet services.
(Editing by Steven Milward)