When news about Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s personal data leak broke, I knew I could no longer trust the government to protect our personal information. If the country’s most prominent figure fell victim to a data leak, then what about commoners like me? I was resigned to my fate as an Indonesian, living in a country where personal documents like ID cards (even the electronic version) and household registrations must be photocopied for administrative purposes. Every time you create an account in e-commerce apps, you’re required to provide your identification number, as well as a photo of you holding your ID card, to verify your identity. The risk of my identity being misused, whether to borrow money or to scam people, is inevitable.

Although I have given up on the situation, I’m still frustrated with spam messages that keep filling my inbox. Every day, at least one unknown number texts me to offer a loan, or to notify me that I won an unbelievably large amount of money.

Our communication ministry said we could end these spam messages by registering our ID number and household registration documents to their department, but I and many others still receive such messages daily despite having done so.

One day, I was so fed up by all the unwanted messages that I decided to buy a new number. My plan was not to register the number anywhere, and only use it to contact people close to me. I was optimistic that my new number won’t be “tainted” by spam messages. I…

Read more…