Thinking of Indonesia, one might be tempted to have in mind an exotic holiday destination with locations as varied as large shopping malls to scenic beaches. Unfortunately, living in the country might pose an altogether different scenario given the penchant of its government to carry out covert surveillance activities even on its own residents.
With an Internet Freedom score as low as that of India, it should come as not much of a surprise that there have been multiple incidences there of oppressive government digital activities in Indonesia. From granting itself very broadly defined surveillance powers to the blocking of social media platforms, residents of Indonesia are a perfect use case as those who would benefit greatly from the use of a VPN.
With a population of over 260 million, Indonesia has a relatively low Internet penetration rate of 54.68% and yet has limitations on social media platforms, restricted access to political content and has even seen the arrest of some high-profile bloggers.
With the prudent use of VPNs, much of this can be carefully avoided, especially since VPNs are not illegal there.
Indonesia uses an AI-based crawler to detect content violations
Early in 2018, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) launched what was dubbed Cyber Drone 9. The custom web crawler was designed with two objectives in mind – to seek out what the government deemed ‘negative content’ and then block Indonesians from access to it.
The parameters the crawler works on are still being refined since it is based on AI, but so far, the scope seems rather broad. According to sources, negative content covers the umbrella of “pornography, gambling, depictions of violence, radicalism and discrimination based on race and religion.”
This is further compounded by ISPs which arbitrarily carry out their own blocking activities for various reasons. For example, in 2016 Indonesia users reported that Netflix had become inaccessible via Telkomsel even though it was not on the ban list.
Not only was the situation not resolved to aid users, but the ISP was thanked by government ministries for taking the initiative in blocking a company which it claimed, “was operating illegally without proper licensing.”
Netflix access was only allowed again in 2017 when the company signed an agreement with the largest telco in the country.
Government gives itself broad surveillance powers
Within the government, several agencies have the powers to restrict online content under what is labelled as the Information and Electronic Transactions Law (ITE Law). The law has been amended several times to increase the scope of powers listed therein.
The ITE Law now not only allows the blocking of content but part of the amendments have allowed authorities to order ISPs to do so. Since then the number of agencies with the authority to filter content has grown.
Uncertainty in Right to Privacy
Although officially, Indonesians are supposed to have their right to privacy protected by the constitution, there apparently isn’t a law designed to help enforce that right. Due to government mandates for companies to store user data though, privacy is somewhat suspect.
This is especially true since some companies have been known to furnish law enforcement agencies with user data when requested. Incidentally, this is one of the key elements of a VPN – the protection of user privacy. Most top VPNs guarantee users that no logs of their activities will be kept, which literally means there is no data to hand over should a request be made.
From a timeline of activities over several years we can see that the government is systematically moving not just to gain arbitrary rights to access user data but is also shaping the environment to enable it to do so easily. The following timeline is one such bracket of implemented scenarios which highlight this;
- 2000 – Government mandates telco customer retention period of not less than three months
- 2012 – Providers of electronic systems offering public services required to build data centres
- 2016 – MCIT forces OTT providers to incorporate locally to facilitate legal interception
While anonymity is not regulated by Indonesia law, these milestones are steps towards the right and capability for government agencies in the country to strip that layer of anonymity.
Arrest and Prosecution of Internet Activists
In the name of national security, Indonesia has also cracked down hard on use of the Internet for various purposes including, but not limited to, defamation, religious matters and content manipulation (“fake news”).
While this may seem very Donald-Trump-esque, the reality is starker and in at least one case an Internet user in the country was arrested for sharing critical content on a House of Representatives speaker. In 2017 three media outlets were also taken to task (Note: Link content is in Indonesian) by a government official who claimed defamation by them.
VPNs are Still legal in Indonesia
While there are ongoing incidences of countries around the world (like Russia and China) starting to pay attention to VPNs and attempting some sort of regulation, at the point of time Indonesia does not seem to have joined that bandwagon yet.
What We Look for in a VPN
1. Privacy and anonymity
As you may realise by now, Indonesia really isn’t the kind of place where you want to be surfing the net without the use of a VPN, whether you are a national or visitor to the country. Because of the factors I’ve shared above and the seriousness of consequences of violating those regulations, it is a good idea to focus on the aspects of privacy and anonymity a VPN offers for users in Indonesia.
With both the government as well as private industry working together as well as independently to monitor and control traffic, a VPN needs to be able to ensure that your data and activities can be kept exactly the way it should be – private.
One of the best ways to ensure this is to keep an eye out for VPNs that not only have strict no-logging policies but that are also based out of countries that are laxer in their data retention laws. This certainly excludes countries in the five eyes and fourteen eyes jurisdiction.
The security spiel on VPNs is the same for Indonesia-based users as everywhere else. The ideal balance is known only to you, as a user. Do you opt for 256-bit encryption at the risk of lower VPN speeds or are you willing to lower that bar for increased speed?
Personally, I feel that for the Indonesia market that it would be best to try and keep encryption levels high for two main reasons. The first is that one of the protagonists in the case we are discussing is the Indonesian government, which will likely have more resources dedicated towards attempting to break any encryption encountered.
The second is that because of lower average internet speeds in the country, you are safe to keep encryption levels as high as possible without compromising your overall maximum speeds achievable.
3. Geolocation spoofing
Normally when we talk about geolocation spoofing it would be with an aim of accessing alternative content from mainstream providers such as Netflix US or the BBC iPlayer in the UK. However, Indonesia users have much more to look forward to in geolocation spoofing since there are literally a ton of sites they cannot access.
4. P2P support
One of the categories of sites being blocked from access in Indonesia seems to be torrent sites. Again, this is another area where a VPN would really help. Look out for VPNs that have P2P traffic guidelines clearly spelt out in their terms of service, such as TorGuard or NordVPN.
5. Speed and stability
With an average fixed line broadband speed of just 16.31Mbps in Indonesia, most VPNs should have zero issues matching the needs of users there. Mobile speeds are even lower at an average of 10.45Mbps, so the main concern with VPNs in Indonesia certainly won’t be speed.
Ranked: The Best VPN for Indonesians
Before any testing for line speed, it is always best to do a baseline check to see how fast your Internet speed is without interference. For me, this means testing my 500 Mbps theoretical line to see how fast it is when connecting to a local server
My location is in Malaysia, within the Southeast Asia region. This means that for the most part I will logically get lower latency and faster speeds in countries closer to where I physically reside.
As I test with servers further away, the latency is expected to grow and speeds drop, depending on actual distance. Other factors do come into play as well with a VPN server. For example, server loads, quality of servers in the country – all of this matters.
Do note that just because a VPN server is close by, doesn’t mean that it is always the best and fastest for you. Some countries may have inherently weaker infrastructure than others, or perhaps some providers have simply gone with the cheapest server hosting in your particular country.
- Price is based on the currency exchange rate of 1 USD = 15,595 IDR.
- Price shown is lowest based on plans available from each VPN service provider.
- No Logs
- Kill Switch
- Supports 6 Devices
"As always, NordVPN shows stable and consistent performance on its Indonesia servers - great for users in the country."
NordVPN is one of the best choices in service provider, but this rings especially true for locations where many services won’t bother to establish a presence. It’s huge number of servers covers many countries, making it a solid choice.
For example – Indonesia. NordVPN takes a strong first place on our Best VPN for Indonesia list for many reasons. One of the first is that they are based in Panama, which is also a good place to be based for VPNs (and their users).
It is also one of the fastest evolving VPN services, providing not just a solid core product but also in supporting areas of privacy and security. Meanwhile, their strict no-logging policy combines well with 256-bit military grade encryption to offer a really safe product to use.
To round things up, there is the price. For its scope of service and excellence at what it does, NordVPN’s pricing is hugely competitive. There are many other service providers who can’t meet these service standards and charge a whole lot more.
With a strong 125 Mbps downstream speed, NordVPN showed very stable performance on their Indonesia server. What makes them even more attractive is that they not only allow P2P traffic but have specially optimized servers for P2P traffic!
Read our in-depth review on NordVPN to see why it’s Bitcatcha’s #1 VPN!
- Offers data compression
- Ad blocking
- Supports 7 devices
"CyberGhost is based out of Romania but it has paid attention to the needs of Indonesia users by steadily increasing its server count in the country."
CyberGhosties are happy with them and they have certainly tried to be hip and upbeat in their marketing. This is another of the more well-known names in the VPN industry but personally I feel that they just might be a tiny bit overhyped.
For Indonesian users, it is a bit of a conundrum since there are both major benefits and drawbacks. The main problem is that in-country, the speeds it offers are rather low. However, thanks to the country’s proximity to SIngapore, users can easily work around this issue via a server there.
While that may not be ideal, it does fit the profile of using a VPN basically – your location becomes anywhere you want it to be.
Although most CyberGhost servers used to be in the EU zone, they have been on a massive expansion spree and today boast one of the highest server counts among providers in the market.
This move has included the Asia Pacific region so there are many other options in terms of location here. Still, if you insist on using an indonesian server, speeds are still workable – albeit a bit less than what many would expect.
See our full review on CyberGhost to learn why it’s one of our top picks!
- Multi-Hop connection
- Supports many platforms
- No logs
"Frills-free and consistent in performance, Surfshark is making its name as a strong upcoming contender."
For a relatively new service, Surfshark has shown impressive performance and perseverance so far. It is one of the strongest newcomer contestants and its place on this list reflects just how well it has done so far despite its ‘youth’.
They offer a complete VPN package with privacy and security at its core, bracketed by the strong selling features of P2P support and easy bypass of regional blocks. This works especially well for those who want to access various region content on providers like Netflix or Hulu.
Other than that, they have a very minimalist interface that isn’t cluttered by a ton of feature that you neither asked for nor want. This makes them highly focused and works out well for those who simply don’t want extra junk.
With many service VPN providers neglecting the Asia Pacific area in favor of Europe and North America, Surfshark not only does offer servers in Indonesia but serves users on them at usable speeds.
Unfortunately these aren’t the best so I do recommend that you connect to nearby Singapore unless you absolutely must use a local server.
Learn more of its excellence at our thorough review on Surfshark!
- Offshore privacy
- 148 VPN locations
- Full 256-bit encryption
"Using ExpressVPN can get you an IP address in Indonesia that is fast, secure and allows for streaming media and more."
Because of the many restrictions there It should come as no surprise that ExpressVPN seems to have laid extensive infrastructure allowances for Indonesia. On average, this VPN service offers excellent all-round service from top-notch speeds all the way to comprehensive applications and protocols – ideal for safety, privacy and anonymity. Its security protocols are also the best-in-class for consumer use existing today.
I have tested the service comprehensively and have no hesitation in recommending them as the top VPN service provider for users in Indonesia. ExpressVPN is stable and allows access on a good range of devices as well.
As an idea of how good it gets, I compared my default line speed without a VPN to an ExpressVPN covered test to the same location. With ExpressVPN on and connected to a server in Indonesia, I managed to show a strong 140 Mbps downstream speed.
Read our complete review on ExpressVPN to learn more!
- Forced 256-bit encryption
- Unlimited P2P
- Supports 10 devices
"IPVanish may not have servers in Indonesia but thanks to neighbouring Singapore, that isn’t a big deal mostly."
IPVanish has suffered greatly in recent times due to its embroilment in certain …shall we say, unfortunate incidents. Yet aside from that, take note that they are under new management and hopefully such things will become just speed bumps in their past.
Moving those incidents aside, they remain a VPN giant in the field and boast speeds that are impressive. Luckily for that, since if you have any complaints about their speed, there isn’t much you can do as they force 256-bit encryption on everyone without exception.
Since they don’t have a local server presence in Indonesia, we defaulted to Singapore which has great speeds in the region and is quite close by.
Again, IPVanish isn’t one with a local presence of servers in Indonesia so the closest were in either Singapore or Malaysia. On the Singapore link I managed to get a fantastic speed reading of 175 Mbps, which is excellent.
For those willing to experiment you can always try other servers in the region which may give better results. Still, the connection was stable and more than enough to stream media on.
Read our in-depth review on IPVanish to find out more!
- Built for P2P
- TorGuard Stealth Proxy
- Supports 5 Connections
"Using TorGuard is a delightful experience and gives one the assurance their Internet connection is truly safe."
One of the most important deciding factors in TorGuard’s placement is that it is a very P2P-friendly VPN service provider. There isn’t a lot of bling on the user-facing side, but it is remarkable in performance.
The TorGuard interface may seem a little dated when first encountered but there is no doubt that there are one of the most secure VPN service providers around. Even though there isn’t a lot of bling on the user-facing side, performance is quite remarkable.
There is one key difference between TorGuard and many competitors in that it allows you to choose what level of encryption you prefer. This means that for P2P users, you can turn down encryption a notch and enjoy faster torrenting speeds anytime!
Aside from that, TorGuard has many other redeeming qualities, such as stable speeds, multi-platform capability and the ability to bypass VPN blockers.
Unfortunately, TorGuard has no servers located directly in Indonesia so users will have to choose one out of the country. The closest would be in either Singapore or Malaysia – through which it showed strong speed performance.
I decided to try out the Singapore server for this particular case since it has such a good track record. At around 184 Mbps, Indonesian users will have a great experience using this server.
Read our thorough analysis on TorGuard for more information!
- Optimized servers for P2P
- Allows server hopping
- Supports 10 devices
"FastestVPN isn’t the fastest but it certainly offers a value proposition that is hard to challenge."
FastestVPN has been working hard since the last time I tried it and this time round it hasn’t failed to impress. Performance has been much increased, but they sadly still lack the network strength to make it really stand out.
It offers more limited countries than most top-tier VPNs and that is seen glaringly here with their lack of a presence locally in indonesia. However, they make up for that in spades thanks to rock bottom pricing that is hard to resist.
Their prices start at the rock bottom level of IDR 17,205 – much less than what you’d be paying at Starbucks for a cup of fancy coffee! In fact, they’ve kept prices that low even as they beefed up the product.
Now, FastestVPN can help you bypass geo-blocked Netflix content, so you can watch US region Netflix anytime.
Speeds on FastestVPN when connected to a Singapore-based server for me exceeded 100 Mbps. That is pretty good for a VPN that has so few servers compared to the big boys.
Head over to our FastestVPN review to learn more!
Do I really Need a VPN in Indonesia?
Speaking seriously, Indonesia seems to be one of the countries I have been increasingly concerned about due to various factors. If it were as simple as plain regulation intended to prevent crimes from occurring, things would not be so bad.
However, the privacy and security scene in Indonesia seem to be chaotic and the government apparently does not care much about Internet freedom. This combined with the will to detain and prosecute puts an immense pressure on Internet users in the country.
I feel that the use of a VPN should rank quite highly on most user’s agenda there. This goes doubly so for foreigners who are in Indonesia for work or leisure – you certainly don’t want to run afoul of legislation and end up in an Indonesian jail – for unspecified reasons.
To recap, here are the top 3 VPN for Indonesia:
SECURITY & PRIVACY