Man Faces Prison Over Porn Video That Played On Roadside Billboard In Jakarta

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Motorists in Jakarta — like these seen in a file photo from February — saw several minutes of an adult video last Friday, after a large video billboard was taken over in an apparent prank.

Days after explicit pornography was shown on a large video screen along a busy intersection in Jakarta, a man who's accused of hacking the billboard is facing charges of immoral actions — and a maximum punishment of six years in prison.

The video played for several minutes at the start of the afternoon rush hour last Friday afternoon. City officials cut power to the billboard — and then investigators tracked down an Internet provider address that they say led them to the suspect, a 24-year-old identified publicly only by the initials S.A.R.

In what was evidently intended to be a prank, motorists and passerby saw a video titled "Watch Tokyo Hot" (the window wasn't maximized, leaving the title visible) instead of seeing the normal array of advertisements. In Indonesia and elsewhere, that type of billboard is commonly called a videotron — and that word became a hashtag for comments and video from the scene last Friday.

While the large billboards that take up prominent places high above busy intersections are controlled by a central tax agency, the content comes directly from advertising companies, according to news site Coconuts Jakarta.

The hack may have been one of opportunity: The suspect has told police he learned the user id and password for the system that controls the jumbotron after that information was inadvertently displayed on its screen, according to The Jakarta Post. Police say they're still working to verify that version of events — and to be sure that the man was working alone.

On the day of the billboard takeover, a programmer in Jakarta tweeted information that would seem to support the suspect's story, saying that if the video system loses its Internet connection even briefly, it displays the active user ID and password.

As Singaporean news site The Straits Times notes, "Access to pornographic websites is blocked in Muslim-majority Indonesia, and romantic scenes in films and television programs are heavily blurred or cut altogether by state censors."

According to The Jakarta Post, the suspect will be charged under Indonesia's law forbidding immoral acts, as well as its law governing electronic transactions.

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