Geo Focus: Asia , Geo-Specific , Governance & Risk Management

Indonesia to Create 'Super Apps' to Run Government Services

President Tells Developers: Stop Pushing Out Code Until Digital Project Goes Online
Indonesia to Create 'Super Apps' to Run Government Services
President Joko Widodo (Image: Shutterstock)

Indonesia has started the process of integrating tens of thousands of government applications into less than a dozen "super apps" to accelerate the delivery of public services. But the move toward consolidation could raise data privacy and security concerns.

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President Joko Widodo on Monday gave the green light to the government's plan to digitally transform its public delivery services by getting rid of about 27,000 applications run by ministries, departments and agencies that, according to the president, complicate bureaucracy and typically operate independently.

The president directed all government ministries and other state organizations to immediately stop releasing new applications to the public domain. "It won't be possible for what I said earlier - to make things easier, to speed up - no. Not integrated, and in fact many of them overlap. Therefore, I need to say, starting this year - I said this last January - stop creating new applications," he said.

He said the central and regional governments developed their applications without proper planning or integration in mind. "The presence of bureaucracy should serve, not complicate things and not slow them down, so the benchmark should be community satisfaction, the benefits received by the community and the ease of community affairs," he said.

The government's digital transformation initiative, known as GovTech Indonesia and in the works since January, has kicked off with the development of nine "super applications," each catering to an essential public service.

Each of these super apps will integrate data and services from hundreds of existing applications covering sectors such as education, health, social assistance, digital payments, digital identity, online driver's licenses, crowd permits and state apparatus services. The government plans to roll out all of these applications by September 2024.

Minister of State Apparatus Utilization and Bureaucratic Reform Abdullah Azwar Anas said the Ministry of Health has already created its super application by successfully integrating community health center apps into one service portal. The government wants these applications to not only integrate data but also make it easy for the public to access essential services.

"So far, our service portals, be it in ministries, institutions and regional governments, when we visit the portals, the contents are sometimes the photos of the director generals, the deputies and the heads of agencies," Anas said. "In the future, we will change these so that people who visit the portals can immediately find the information on how they should apply their BPJS [insurance] on their childbirth process, on how to acquire scholarship."

The government has entrusted state-owned technology company Perum Peruri, commonly known as Peruri, with developing the new applications, digitizing government services and implementing the government's Electronic-Based Government System, which will run modernized applications and digital portals.

Peruri is the official Indonesian printer and minter of bank notes. Its other services include printing secure documents such as bank checks, passports, postage stamps, certificates and identity cards, and digital security products and solutions for government organizations.

The company said its rich history of developing high-security solutions makes it the ideal choice to lead the government's digital transformation program. "Peruri presents a fresh visual identity that illustrates how we are able to produce quality services to maintain the authenticity of products, identities and complex digital systems," said President and Director Dwina Septiani Wijaya.

"The transformation process we are undergoing does not only focus on business and infrastructure, but we also understand the importance of quality human resources. Therefore, Peruri has also brought in the best digital talents to support the success of the government's digital transformation," she said.

The government's planned integration of government applications could make it easier for IT security teams to manage far fewer applications than before, but could also make the new super applications prime targets for hacking attacks considering the amount of public data they would process.

Last year, a study by cybersecurity company Check Point revealed that Indonesia faced the highest number of cyberattacks in the Southeast Asian region, averaging 3,300 cyberattacks per week. The nature and frequency of attacks made the country the hot spot for cryptomining, botnet, mobile malware and info-stealer attacks (see: Indonesia Hardest Hit by Cyberattacks in the Region).

Earlier this year, Malaysia embarked on a serious digital transformation journey and announced plans for an online government public database named the Publicly Accessible Data Universe, or PADU, which integrates data from all government resources to enable effective service delivery and policymaking.

The government database is expected to store about 29 million citizens' names, demographic details, addresses, income details, banking records, debts, properties and investments - information that can help the government provide aid and subsidies based on socioeconomic profiles of citizens. Critics said the government's poor data security credentials could make the database highly vulnerable to data breaches or leaks.

"The government unfortunately has a bad track record of data protection," said rights group Lawyers for Liberty. "There are numerous reports of data being stolen from multiple government agencies, exposing users to scams and data fraud with no legal recourse as the government is exempt from liability under the PDPA. This puts the public in a terrible disadvantage and danger of loss and damage."

About the Author

Jayant Chakravarti

Jayant Chakravarti

Senior Editor, APAC

Chakravarti covers cybersecurity developments in the Asia-Pacific region. He has been writing about technology since 2014, including for Ziff Davis.

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