Remember when the Indonesian president’s website was hacked a couple of weeks ago? The Indonesian cyber crime police unit finally got their man as they arrested hacker Wildan Yani Ashari a few days ago. But in protest at that arrest, numerous Indonesian websites were also defaced by other local hackers – some sites have still not been restored to their previous state.
Wildan Yani Ashari is an interesting fellow. He works as the caretaker of an internet cafe located in Jember regency, and is a highschool graduate of a vocational school studying architectural engineering. His vocational school also teaches computer skills, and Detik quotes his teachers as saying that the boy did not show exemplary skills during his time in the computer class.
The government seems to want to deter similar hacking activities in the future as Wildan will be charged for a maximum of 12 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of IDR 12 billion (US$ 1.2 million). This for only the defacement of the president’s site. Even before the details of his possible punishment were released, several hackers already showed their support for Wildan after his arrest by hacking sites like the Indonesian Supreme Court’s website, YuhermanLawOffice.com, and TeoStudios.com.ar.
The hacked supreme court website (pictured above) has written statements from hackers, which said that unlike corrupt officials, hackers shouldn’t be arrested. The hackers only tried to show the weakness in the government’s system so that it can be strengthened against possible future threats. It is then stated that the local hackers ask that the government help train their hacking skills as they are prepared to help repel hacking threats from other countries. They are also protesting the stern punishment Wildan is facing right now. The other defaced websites echo that same message by saying that the government should help improve the skills of local hackers, rather than arresting them.
For once I have to side with the local hackers in this case. Yes, what Wildan did was a crime, but it was not a vast one and he did not endanger anyone or steal anything in the process. Even if Wildan is found guilty, I think – as will many web-smart Indonesians – that the punishment is disproportionate.
A few people might think that I’m overreaching here when I use the example of the late internet activist Aaron Swartz, who was potentially facing a disproportionately severe 50 years of jail time for sharing JSTOR’s digital library of academic journals freely for public use. His aim was not profit, and it was just an act of digital defiance, but still the US government and the FBI hounded him on the case, which ended with Aaron’s suicide last week.