YouTube has geo-blocked a satirical Honest Government Ads video which criticized the Indonesian government’s treatment of West Papau at the behest of the Indonesian government.
Honest Government Ads is a popular YouTube series which regularly satirizes governments and policies from around the world. This specific video titled “Visit West Papua!” was originally uploaded in November 2018 and takes aim at the way West Papua’s indigenous people have been treated by the Indonesian government since it took control of the territory in 1962.
However, at the end of August this year, the Indonesian government filed a legal complaint with YouTube which resulted in YouTube blocking the video in the country to “comply with local laws.”
The Juice Media, the company that produces Honest Government Ads, says that YouTube hasn’t provided any way to query the complaint or ask which local laws were violated.
The blocking of this video in Indonesia comes after mass protests erupted in West Papua in August. These protests were sparked by allegations that the Indonesian police used excessive force against Papuan students and one of the ways the Indonesian government responded to these protests was by cutting off the internet.
The blocking of this video isn’t the first time YouTube has censored a comedy video in certain regions after receiving a government request. YouTube star PewDiePie had two of his videos blocked in India after the country’s largest music label and movie studio T-Series filed a takedown order in April. Although the legal dispute was eventually resolved in August, it highlighted how local laws in countries from around the world can be used to compel US-based tech companies to censor content that governments or corporations don’t want the local populace to see.