What is really showing on Vimeo?

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This week’s report begins in Indonesia, where Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring announced last week via Twitter that Vimeo would be banned due to allegedly pornographic videos. The Jakarta Globe reported that while some local ISPs followed the order, others did not, leading to controversy among Vimeo users and open Internet advocates.

Often seen as a more refined, art- and documentary-focused alternative to YouTube, Vimeo explicitly prohibits pornographic and “sexually explicit” content, but does not prohibit nudity. Like many sites, Vimeo offers a community reporting system that allows users to report on content that may violate these and other terms of use.

According to public record [link in Indonesian], the ministry intended to prevent users from viewing videos tagged as “Art of Nakedness,” “Nudie Cutie,” and “Beautiful of Nakedness [sic]”. This came as no surprise to observers, who note that the ministry has ordered the blocking of thousands of porn and sex-related websites under Sembiring’s tenure, but it is unclear why the government did not ask ISPs to block specific videos, rather than the site as a whole. Others allege that Sembiring, a leader of the Prosperous Justice Party, ordered the ban because of a film on the site that satirized a recent television ad promoting the party.