Censorship in Thailand has always been accomplished by government in secret. The number of websites blocked, its blocklists and the methods it uses to block have never been disclosed to the Thai public..
However, the new cybercrime law required that the government seek a court order before blocking. However, since passage of the law, Web censorship has become far murkier, with Thailand'
s 100 ISPs blocking blocking independently in order to avoid being criminalised under the law for illegal content transiting their servers. And no court orders have been requested.
Now ISPs are required to keep all Internet traffic logs for 90 days. Two cyber-dissidents have already been arrested under the new law tracked by their IP addresses for comments they made on Thailand'
s monarchy to public Web discussion boards.
Make no mistake: Internet censorship is illegal in Thailand under at least 11 articles of the 1997 Constitution, by decree of the lawmakers'
Council of State and by order of the Administrative Court. Has this stopped the censors? Didn'
t even slow them now.
s newly-elected government and its new ICT Minister are using lèse majesté as its ongoing excuse to block freedom of opinion and expression by Thais on issues vital to our society.
The past few weeks have seen YouTube blocked again as well as Prachatai, Thailand'
s foremost independent news portal and Same Sky, a journal of social criticism. Both sites have popular public Web discussion boards. In the past, both sites have been warned by MICT to self-censor “sensitive” public comments.
However, both Prachatai and Same Sky were closed this week without court order by the ICT Minister who was interviewed on May 14 on the Khao Den Praden Ron radio news programme. His comments reveal that, not only was he completely aware he was
acting above the law, but that suggestion for the censorship came from those higher up in Thai government.
Quoting the Minister: [Pursuing legal action] will…become a big scandal. We'
d better suppress the news. Someone higher than me is of this opinion . This means, of course, that the rose-apple is rotten to its core and that Thai bureaucrats engage in criminal acts with impunity.
Twenty nine "inappropriate" websites are being investigated for content deemed to be critical of or offensive to the Thai monarchy.
A police source at the High-Tech Crime Centre said a list of inappropriate websites, compiled about a month ago, has been handed over to the Special Branch Police.
The SBP is working with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in tracking down operators or owners of those websites, the source said.
Note that Lese Majeste accusations are sometimes more to do with settling personal scores rather than strident attacks on the monarchy.
The newspapers published the list of sites under investigation. Having compiled the list, the thorny issue of how to block them seems to be causing problems. The recent law suggests that blocking should be via court orders
but these have not been obtained. So it seems that the blocking has been delegated to ISPs with assurances that they will not be prosecuted.
Information and Communications Technology Minister Man Pattanothai said that so far internet service providers had not dared to block websites found to have lèse majesté content for fear of breaching the National Telecommunications Commission law
that forbids blocking information flows, with a maximum penalty of licence revocation.
After consulting with the National Telecommunications Commission, the ICT Ministry has assured all ISPs that they will not be subject to the penalty if they block the truly offensive websites, said the Minister.
The National Telecommunications Commission has confirmed with the ministry that blocking websites offensive to the royal family can be carried out without breaching the law. Therefore, the ICT Ministry can guarantee all ISPs that their
licenses will not be revoked, said the Minister.
ICT Minister said that there had been an order from ‘high above'
not to block the websites and to allow the free flow of information, on the grounds that foreigners do not understand the blocking and may form negative perceptions.
Reporters Without Borders is alarmed about the comments made by Man Pattanotai, the Thai minister of information and communication technology (ICT), in a radio interview on 14 May. He said prosecuting websites because of their content would cause
a “big scandal” and that it was better to just “suppress the news” by closing them down or blocking access.
By voicing a preference for radical censorship measures, the minister is in complete contradiction with the Computer Crime Act, which has been in force since the summer of 2007 and which requires the authorities to bring a complaint against a
website before requesting its closure, Reporters Without Borders said: We condemn the reinforcement of online controls, which includes the creation of a toll-free number for people to call to denounce any website criticising the monarchy.
The Information and Communications Technology Ministry is to introduce an internet gateway system to block websites containing content Thailand doesn't like. ICT Minister Mun Patanotai will also hold a meeting with webmasters today to discuss
measures to suppress lese majeste material.
The gateway system, which could cost between 100 and 500 million baht, could will be used to block websites considered inappropriate, such as those of terrorist groups or selling pornography.
However, the ministry will focus first on websites with content deemed insulting to the Thai monarchy, Mun said. Ministry officials are looking into about a thousand websites, he said. Mun said the ministry has been working with the National
Intelligence Agency and the police in cracking down on anti-royal sites.
Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said he has assigned relevant agencies, particularly the ICT Ministry, to take strong action against offenders.
Special Branch Police are monitoring five community radio stations that are also airing political content that could be considered lese majeste, a source said.
Ayutthaya Governor Preecha Kamolbut has ordered authorities to monitor all provincial community radio and cable TV stations around the clock.
The police ordered officers to take immediate action against offenders without waiting for complaints.
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has just received secret blocklists leaked from Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
Under conditions imposed by the Computer-Related Crimes Act 2007, no website may be legally blocked without a court order. In fact, this pesky legal stipulation is not rigorously adhered to and both the Royal Thai Police and the more than 100
Thai ISPs typically block as they wish.
However, the leaked blocklists totalling 1300 sites blocked between June and December 2008 are accompanied by court orders detailing applications of the Ministry which authorise most of the websites censored. The court orders to ISPs cite reasons
of lese majeste and national security..
Court orders are not customarily sealed from public view. In fact, maintaining such documents via an open judicial process as a matter of public record is a crucial democratic cornerstone.
Every site requested for blocking has the stated reason of lese majeste, however, it is obvious that many sites were blocked for quite different reasons. It would appear, in fact, that the court did not examine each site before issuing its order
but instead relied on MICT's judgement.
Although we have not yet found the opportunity to examine each website censored, as in the past, an eclectic mix of censorship has been revealed resulting in overblocking of many benign webpages.
Along with the obligatory YouTube videos and their mirror sites alleged to be lese majeste in Thailand, numerous blocks to Thai webboard pages, particularly at popular discussion sites, Prachatai (45 separate pages) and Same Sky (56 separate
pages). Also blocked are weblogs referencing Paul Handley's unauthorised Biography of Thailand's King, The King Never Smiles, and its translation into Thai along with Thai Wikipedia entries.
The webpages of respected Thai Buddhist social critic, Sulak Sivaraksa who is currently on bail for his fourth accusation of lese majeste, and Matthew Hunt, respected Thai journalist, anticensorship activist and FACT signer, are also blocked as
are pages of the respected international newsmagazine, The Economist.
A total of 860 YouTube videos have been blocked, far in excess of the blocking conducted by The Official Censor of the Military Coup; a further 200 pages mirroring those videos are also blocked.
Curiously, bum fight movies, Hillary Clinton's campaign videos, and 24 Charlie Chaplin videos have also been blocked, perhaps due to their Web location at Clown-Ministry.
The Thai government has blocked more than 2,300 Web sites over the past year, often for criticising the constitutional monarchy political system, a senior official said.
The sites, more than 90% of which were registered abroad, were also blocked for pornographic content and supposedly threatening national security, said Sue Lo-uthai, an official at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology: Most
of the cases are lese majeste ones which have rapidly increased this year. I personally believe that the reason behind the increase is the political conflict in Thailand .
Thailand has blocked 2,300 Web sites and is establishing a war room for future crackdowns, which critics say threaten free speech.
Authorities are seeking a court order to shut 400 more sites and will spend 45 million baht ($1.3 million) to create a 24-hour center to police Internet material, Information and Communications Technology Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee said in a
statement posted on the ICT’s Web site.
The ministry is investing a lot of money to buy expensive software to block Web sites, but actually it’s very contrary to international standards, said lawyer Paiboon Amonpinyokeat: The government has to understand the nature of
the Internet and the concept of freedom of speech.
Under the 2007 law passed after the military seized power in a coup, authorities can’t block Web sites without a court order. The law was designed to prevent abuse of power by giving judges the final say on whether to shut down an Internet
site, Paiboon said.
The ministry plans to introduce heavier fines and prison terms for anyone who supposedly insults the king via the Internet, Ranongrak said in the statement. She also plans to target inappropriate online games and casinos. And of course
there are plenty of porn sites on the censored list.
Thai police said that they have found another 1,500 web sites that allegedly insult the country's monarchy and have ordered them to be blocked amid an intensifying crackdown.
The announcement comes just days after the government said it had already prevented access to around 2,300 websites under repressive lese majeste laws which protect King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his family.
The laws have been criticised by rights groups and media organisations in recent months, while critics have accused the government of using them to suppress dissenting voices on the Internet.
Police have found up to 1,500 websites containing content that is insulting to the royal family, Lieutenant General Suchart Mueankaoe, commander of Bangkok Metropolitan Police, told reporters.
Lt Gen Suchart said his force was responsible for prosecuting cases of defaming the monarchy no matter where the case originated. Currently there are 17 cases active, out of these eight are still being investigated.
Thailand has been adding more web pages to its extensive blocked list.
On December 4 2008’s official blocklist of 37 are online pharmacies selling morning after pills directed at Thai consumers in Thai.
It looks as if the fundamentalists at the IT ministry, MICT, are making themselves Thailand’s morality police.
January 14, 2009’s MICT blocklist comes as a result of the ministry’s application for court orders to block 408 separate web pages. All blocked pages are videos on video sharing sites.
Most notable is a new video hosted in the Czech Republic, Harry Nicolaides Is a Political Prisoner.
Content previously on YouTube as part of the StopLeseMajeste channel has been diversified to 65 public video-sharing websites, most hosting multiple blocked videos. The sites are located in at least 12 identifiable countries. 25 further YouTube
videos have been blocked as well as 31 YouTube pages in 23 countries. A single page at Google Video is also blocked.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about mounting government threats to media and Internet freedom in Thailand, including legal action against community radio stations and censoring thousands of Web sites.
Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga recently told a parliamentary session that his ministry intends to censor 3,000 to 4,000 Web sites for posting materials considered offensive to the Thai monarchy. The Information Communication and
Technology (ICT) Ministry announced on January 5 that it had shut down 2,300 Web sites for violating the country's strict lese majeste laws.
Piraphan said that he had established 10 different panels to implement the Internet crackdown and that his ministry was working closely with the ICT and Defense ministries. He mentioned in particular that three Thai nationals had been identified
for posting anti-monarchy materials on the Web site Manussaya and that one of the writers has been arrested on lese majeste charges.
Satit Wongnongtaey, a minister in the prime minister's office, proposed taking legal action against five community radio stations he contended were causing unrest through their news reporting. He mentioned specifically the Taxi Lovers Club radio
station situated in Bangkok and four others located in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Udon Thani provinces.
The areas are known to be strongholds of former and now exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, political rival to the now incumbent Democrat Party-led coalition. Satit sent a proposal to investigate the stations for instigating unrest to the
government's Public Relations Department's subcommittee on broadcasting and told reporters that the subcommittee must take quick action against them. He did not specify what form that action might take.
Thailand is headed in the same direction as its historically more authoritarian neighbors--including Myanmar, Vietnam and China--in regards to Internet censorship, said Robert Mahoney, CPJ's deputy director: We call on the country's new
democratic government to quickly reverse this worrying trend and instead work toward re-establishing the country as a regional standard-bearer for free expression.
CPJ recently reviewed a copy of draft legislation signed by Piraphan that intends to expand the censorship powers vested in the controversial 2007 Computer Crime Act. According to the draft amendments, ICT ministry officials would no longer be
required to receive court approval before blocking and censoring Web sites. Thai courts approved the ICT Ministry's earlier blockage of 2,300 Web sites on grounds of lese majeste, but officials have since said that the legal process has slowed
their work in censoring the recent proliferation of anti-monarchy materials posted to the Internet.
On January 27, CPJ sent a letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva expressing its concerns about Thailand's fast deteriorating media climate.
The increasing censorial Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has said that he had instructed the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to crack down on websites, which allow students to post messages soliciting sex clients.
Abhisit said the ministry was taking actions against the sites. He said the prostitution by students was influenced by wrong values so there should be campaigns to have students change their values. He said the government is
launching the campaigns through education as well.
Previously the issue had been identified by colleges and universities who sought action against students found to have engaged in direct-sale prostitution via social-network websites like Hi5.
Assoc Prof Sukhum Chaloeysap of Suan Dusit Rajabhat University said all institutes of higher learning should admit the problem existed and join forces to combat it.
Some students are said to have touted sexual services on Hi5, which has links to more than 1,000 other websites that openly post students' pictures, many in uniform, and suggestive messages. He urged the principals of colleges and universities to
Many students' part-time jobs are affected by the economic slowdown, driving some to prostitution to earn extra money, he said.
He blamed the online student sex trade on youth's faulty values and overspending on luxurious and unnecessary items that drove young people to such lengths to get quick cash. He called for strong families and proactive educational and religious
institutions to counter the trend.
The government in Thailand has set up a special website urging people to inform on anyone criticising the monarchy.
It has also established a war room to co-ordinate the blocking of websites deemed offensive to the monarchy. On its first day of operation the centre banned nearly 5,000 websites. The Ministry of Information had already blocked many thousands of
sites, but that work is now being accelerated by the new centre.
Internet users are being urged to show their loyalty to the king by informing via a new website called protecttheking.net (Thai language), which has been set up by a parliamentary committee. It calls on all citizens to inform on anyone suspected
of insulting or criticising the monarchy.
The new website appears to be part of a concerted effort by the government and its conservative supporters to stifle any debate on the future of the monarchy, before it can gather momentum, our correspondent says.
The committee formalized the Internet Security Operations Centre (ISOC), formerly known as the ‘War Room', to monitor inappropriate content on the internet, with officials from the ICT Ministry and other relevant agencies keeping watch 24 hours a
day. A special call centre is being set up for the public to give information on inappropriate websites.
In the ISOC room, staff will be divided into three sections to monitor three categories of inappropriate websites: (1) those which offend the nation, religion, and monarchy, (2) those which affect tradition and culture, such as Hi5, or
advertise abortion pills, and (3) those which provide gambling and dangerous online games such as the GTA game, said the ICT Minister.
According to the minister, the MICT has requested court orders to close or block 4,818 URLs which include 4,683 web pages offensive to the monarchy, 98 pages offering pornography, and 37 pages containing false advertisements.
The MICT and the Ministry of Culture have also been monitoring the postings of pictures of female students with phone numbers for the purpose of prostitution, and have found an increase in online advertisements for abortion pills and sex gear.
Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the Official Censor of the Military Coup, has blocked at least 17,775 websites which, along with blocking by the Royal Thai Police, resulted in more than 50,000 websites
blocked in Thailand. Public webboard discussions, circumvention tools, voices from Thailand's Muslim South and critical commentary of Thailand's monarchy were particularly targetted for censorship.
Thailand's military government also passed a Computer-Related Crimes Act with draconian penalties and onerous data retention provisions abnegating privacy and anonymity and chilling public discussion of vital issues among Thais. The result of
this cybercrime law was to criminalise circumvention with one notable exception, the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) relied on by business to create a secure, private, encrypted channel.
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has now
provided links to easy tools for private citizens to legally ignore Thailand's Internet censorship. Virtual Private Networks have been complicated to set up and difficult to maintain. However, with these two free, public tools, VPN is
available to everyone.
Thailand's Internet--once open and free--is fast morphing into one of Asia's more censored cyberspaces. But a new group of concerned Thai citizens, known as the Thai Netizen Network (TNN), is bidding to turn back the tide of government censorship
through advocacy and monitoring.
Web sites that have posted materials deemed potentially offensive to the Thai royal family have been blocked by successive military-appointed and democratically elected Thai governments. And the campaign of censorship is accelerating under new
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Beginning last year, a group of academics, activists, journalists and webmasters held informal meetings to discuss the emerging threat to Internet freedom in the wake of the passage of the 2007 Cyber Crime Act and the intensified use of lese
majeste charges against journalists, commentators, and everyday Internet users. Both laws give Thai officials the authority to censor news and opinions that could be deemed a threat to national security or the monarchy.
TNN coalesced into a formal organization soon after several local Web sites, including news and commentary outlets Prachathai and Fah Diew Kan, were threatened with closure last year by officials for posting materials offensive to the monarchy.
Fah Diew Kan's site was eventually blocked in January after officials threatened the site's ISP administrator.
TNN coordinator Supinya Klangnarong told CPJ that the new group's main missions are to keep Thailand's Internet open and free, to monitor government surveillance and censorship, and to provide moral and legal support to Internet users and writers
who encounter harassment for their postings.
Currently, TNN is publicizing the case and arranging legal representation for Suwicha Thakor, an oil-rig engineer who was arrested and held without bail on January 14 for posting materials onto the Internet considered offensive to the monarchy.
They have also taken up the case of BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, who faces three different lese majeste complaints filed by a senior Thai police official.
A Thai Criminal Court has ordered the closure of 72 websites offering access to online gambling and games.
The court order follows the death of a 12-year-old boy who jumped from the sixth-floor balcony of his school building after he was banned from playing computer games by his father.
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) deputy chief Suchart Wong-anandchai said under a May 19 order issued by the Criminal Court to the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry, the agency was told to shut down 72 websites
seen as encouraging people to place online bets or hooking them on computer games.
Pol Col Suchart, who also sits on the ICT's subcommittee on internet safety, said it was the first time that a court order had been issued in the country to close websites offering online gambling opportunities.
From now on any provider found to encourage or provide online gambling will not only face a jail term and a fine, but also have his/her ISP licence revoked by the ICT, he said.
Among the 72 websites facing closure are 368sb.com and 88suncity.com, both based in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone of the Philippines.
George Orwell's 1984 had its Big Brother, and Thailand has Ranongrak Suwanchawee.
The country's information minister stares down from billboards along Bangkok's expressways, warning that bad websites are detrimental to society and should be reported to a special hotline.
Anti-censorship campaigners yesterday warned that Thailand was now following regimes like neighbouring China and Myanmar in shutting down access to opposition internet sites and seriously restricting press freedom.
The government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is fighting a battle on at least two major fronts against protesters seeking to oust it. On the streets, a massive force of soldiers and police has only managed to battle them to a standstill.
In cyberspace, the authorities have fared little better, despite efforts to block dissenting voices with the threat of lengthy prison terms.
The often broad-brush approach to blocking websites even affects surfers just out for some video fun. Live streaming services justin.tv, ustream.tv and livestream.tv have also been blocked, apparently because they host transmissions by the
so-called Red Shirt protesters.
Thailand is getting increasingly like China when it comes to internet censorship, said Poomjit Sirawongprasert, president of the Thai Hosting Service Providers Club.
Global Voices Advocacy (GVD), a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists, has launched a shocking report that Thailand has blocked at least 113,000 websites deemed to pose a threat to national security.
With its objective to defend free speech online, Global Voices revealed that Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) and the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations (CRES) admitted to blocking 48,000
websites in May this year, 50,000 in June and July and adding 500 more per day.
Almost all blocked websites were accused of breaching Thailand's infamous lèse-majesté law. Lèse-majesté, or the crime of injury to the royalty, is defined by Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, which states that
defamatory, insulting or threatening comments about the king, queen and regent are punishable by three to 15 years in prison.
The punishment is also getting harsher since the state authorities have defined the threat to monarchy so closely with the concept of national security. In Thailand, the monarchy is not only a symbolic institution. It is the pillar of national
security, said Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, a former judge. Whatever is deemed as affecting the monarchy must be treated as a threat to national security.
The government has promised to lift the state of emergency before year's end, but it's not known if that will reverse its Orwellian attack on freedom of expression online
In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Ministry of Truth , or minitrue , freely rewrites history to satisfy the Party doctrine and propaganda. It exercises strict control over the media, all forms of entertainment, education,
literature and anything else that might present an alternative viewpoint.
In 2010 in Thailand, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry, in conjunction with the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), has been enforcing the 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA) to block thousands of
The CRES, which came into being after the 2005 state of emergency decree was put into effect throughout most of the country in early April in response to the red shirt demonstrations in Bangkok, also exercises its power to control media such as
community radio, newspapers and television.
According to a study from the iLaw Project titled, Situation Report on Control and Censorship of Online Media, through the Use of Laws and the Imposition of Thai State Policies , the ICT ministry has filed charges against 185 individuals
in relation to the CCA and there have been 117 court orders to block access to 74,686 URLs. On average, 690 URLs are blocked daily.
A Tunisian appeal court has rejected a motion by the Tunisian Internet Agency to defer a lower court's May ruling making ATI responsible for blocking Tunisian internet users' access to pornographic websites.
One of the three lawyers who brought the original case, Moneem Turki, told the news agency that the court of appeal confirmed the initial decision to censure all pornographic websites despite the ATI counsel having submitted proof that her
organisation did not have the financial or technical means to do so.
It had been argued that such websites should be filtered because they constituted a danger to young internet users and went against Moslem values.
Although ATI announced that it would file an appeal with the highest court of appeal ( cour de cassation ), the agency is required to comply with the blocking immediately.
Thailand's first blocklist was created by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in January 2004 during the Thaksin Shinawatra administration. It blocked 1,247 URLs by name.
Thailand's first blocklist marked the first and only attempt at transparency by Thailand's Internet censors. Every subsequent blocklist, the webpages blocked, the reasons for blocking and even the number of pages blocked is held in secret by Thai
Following Thailand's military coup d'etat on September 19, 2006, the military's fifth official order on its first day in power was to block the Internet. Under the coup regime, tens of thousands of webpages were blocked.
The coup government's first legislative action was to promulgate the Computer Crimes Act 2007. In its first drafts, the CCA prescribed the death penalty for computer crimes; this was modified in the final law to only 20 years in prison.
The new elected opposition government has continued the folly of its predecessors. It was further revealed that Thai government censorship was rising at a rate of 690 new pages blocked every single day.
Thailand's censorship has shown no signs of abating and almost none of the webpages blocked during the emergency have been unblocked. In 2012, more than 90,000 Facebook pages were blocked. So are online pharmacies and gambling sites.
To date, Thailand has spent THB 2,173,913,043---more than two billion baht---(almost USD $71 million) to censor our Internet.
On December 28, 2011, Thailand was blocking 777,286 webpages. Today, November 1, 2012, Thailand blocks ONE MILLION URLs
Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) wants to revise the Computer Crime Act of 2007 but several media groups in the country are opposing changes to the law.
The ICT claims that reforming the law is necessary to curb the growing menace of cybercrime but critics fear it would lead to greater online censorship .
On October 24, five media groups in Bangkok issued a joint statement rejecting the amendments drafted by the Ministry. They include the Thai Journalists Association, Thai Broadcasting Journalists Association, Online News Providers Association,
Information Technology Reporters and Academic Specialists on Computer Law Group.
The amendments would further tighten the Computer Crime Act (CCA), a law that has been widely criticized for its harsh penalties for various kinds of online speech. It includes the lese majeste law under which several netizens have been
imprisoned for criticizing the king online.
Among proposed amendments to the CCA is a measure that would allow authorities to block websites without seeking prior approval from a court and the ICT Minister. Under the current law, authorities cannot have sites blocked without a court order.
Media groups speaking out against the amendments to the CCA are particularly opposed to this amendment, calling it a violation of the people's right to information. Further, they have demanded that the government drop the draft proposal as it:
Lacks standards of training for responsible officials and grants excessive power to the authorities. The groups added that the bill goes against Internet communication infrastructure and places disproportionate burdens on website operators,
Internet and mobile phone service providers, and Internet users.
An editorial in the Bangkok Post derided the 2007 law, arguing that it has become a tool for harassing government critics and must be scaled back:
The CCA is the basis for massive internet censorship, sometimes compared with that of China. It has imprisoned people to longer terms than parallel, non-computer laws allow. And it has almost never been used for the purpose it was supposedly
There is no longer even an estimate of the number of websites and pages closed or blocked by (the ICT) ministry. Certainly it is well into six figures. The ICT minister, using opaque and unaccountable appeals to a court, can effectively block
any website from standard online access, without accountability, appeal or even the knowledge of those involved.
The editorial argued that the government should shift its focus back to the original intent of the law, which was to prevent online financial crimes such as phishing and identity theft.
Supporting the five Thai media groups is Reporters Without Borders , which cautioned the government not to approve the amendments and to withdraw the legislation in its entirety:
The bill -- in addition to eliminating a requirement for a judicial warrant to block a website -- would allow that action without approval from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, thereby distancing the law even more from
In response, the ICT claims that because the proposed amendments have gone through public consultations, there should be no controversy over their passage.
Thai ISPs have been authorised to monitor and block any web pages that they feel like. Pages supposedly threatening national security or those that may be construed as insulting to the country's establishment may be censored without having
to seek prior approval from courts or official censors..
The new measure was approved at a joint meeting between the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), large internet service providers (ISPs) and the police's Special Branch
After an ISP blocks a page, it is to report to the NBTC and the Information and Communication Technology Ministry without delay. Under previous law and regulations, police had to ask a court for permission to block an internet site or a web page.
It is not clear who or what agency has authorised the ad hoc, freelance censorship.
The measure will apply to all types of content and not just Facebook, and covers both regular web pages and social-media posts or messages.
The move is partially in response to foreign internet companies refusing Thai censorship requests. According to the latest Google Transparency Report from July to December 2013, the US media giant did not remove any content requested by Bangkok.
Among the requests during the six-month period were for 298 YouTube videos by the ICT Ministry which Google turned down because the request was for global removal .
Thailand's junta has said it planned to create a new military unit to censor online dissent, as Internet freedom campaigners said they were training hundreds of volunteers for a cyber war against censorship.
The proposed unit follows controversial plans for a single access point to the Internet, dubbed by online protesters as the Great Firewall of Thailand - in reference to China's draconian web surveillance - because it would make it easier
to monitor the web.
While Thai premier Prayut Chan-o-cha claimed no conclusions have been reached on the single gateway but defence minister Prawit Wongsuwon has now told reporters the military is continuing with the plan.
In response, the group Citizens Against Single Gateway: Thailand Internet Firewall, vowed to launch unspecified attacks against the junta if the gateway plans were not cancelled. The group said the group in a Facebook post:
In order to win the cyber war this time, we must use brains, skills and patience.
Thailand's military dictators are moving to heighten its online censorship by persuading social media networks Facebook and Line to comply with court orders to remove content the government doesn't like.
The junta-appointed National Steering Reform Assembly (NSRA) will meet executives in the coming three months, council member Major General Pisit Paoin told Reuters.
A similar request was made last month to Google over content on YouTube. .
Thailand's military dictators have turned their attention to the censorship of the Line messaging app. They have arranged a meeting with managers from Line to be held at the Thai parliament.
The Thai government will call on Line to censor content that the government does not like.
Line said earlier in a statement:
The privacy of Line users is our top priority. Once we have been officially contacted, we will conduct due diligence of the related parties and consider an appropriate solution that does not conflict with our company's global standards, or the
laws of Thailand.
The Thai government also commented on three meetings with Google executives. The first was held unofficially in December 2015, while the second and third were official meetings in January. As a result, the government said it received good
cooperation from Google to reduce processing and take-down time for inappropriate [video] content from YouTube.
International over-the-top (OTT) content providers have been the bane of Thai regulator National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's (NBTC) existence over the past few months.
The supposedly independent communications censor seems to be obsessed with finding ways to curb the likes of Facebook, Google, YouTube and Alibaba. In early April it boldly suggested imposing some kind of bandwidth fee on the consumption of OTT
services, requiring OTT players to have an operating licence to run a business in Thailand and even making them pay a value-added service tax for transactions by local merchants.
The head of the broadcasting committee, Natee Sukonrat, was quoted as saying users on social media who influence public opinion will have to be reined in.
What on the surface may seem to be an effort to create a more level playing field for the mobile players could also be seen as a thinly disguised attempt to give the regulator the power to more easily monitor and censor content the government is
finding difficult to regulate. The widely-criticised proposals are merely a backhanded move to bypass current legal processes and give the regulator the authority to demand the removal of content the military-run government considers illegal
without waiting for a court order, which the government has complained is time consuming.
Facebook and co would not play ball with Thai government requests and the government was forced drop the plan to register OTT players for tax purposes. However the government said that it would push ahead to replace several weak points in the
censorship process and come up with a revised proposal in 30 days.
And now the junta's ominously named National Reform Steering Assembly this month approved an 84-page social media censorship proposal, which would require such things as fingerprint and facial scanning just to top-up a prepaid plan, all in an
effort to be able to identify those posting content to OTT services. The push for fingerprint and facial recognition is in addition to existing requirements for all SIM users to register with their 13-digit national IDs.
Commentators say the stringent rules are similar to those in use in China and Iran.
Vogue fashion magazine has been reporting on the dangers of social media posts that contain images which included alcohol brands. Vogue magazine writes:
Tourists might not realize as they make their guidebook-mandated pilgrimage to nightlife hotspots like Khao San Road, is that despite the country's many Full Moon parties and bar girls, alcohol advertising is illegal. And posting a photo on
social media of your beer by the beach could count as advertising.
Recently police have begun to strictly enforce 2008's Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which bans displaying the names or logos of products in order to induce people to drink such alcoholic beverages, either directly or indirectly.
Last month, police announced their intention to more closely patrol social media and charge those found breaking the law. That means even if your favorite actress wasn't being paid for her endorsement and really was just sharing a photo with a
drink by the pool or on a night out, she could find herself facing a 50,000 baht (about $1,500 USD) fine for indirectly inducing drinking.
Earlier this month, eight local celebrities were fined for posting selfies with alcoholic drinks on social media, with Thai Asia Pacific Brewery and Boon Rawd Brewery Co. (the producer of Singha beer) also implicated in the case. But police
aren't just monitoring the accounts of the rich and famous -- at the beginning of August, three bar girls found themselves arrested after making a Facebook Live video inviting people to come enjoy a beer promotion.
Thailand's military-controlled parliament has unanimously passed a new Cybersecurity Act to give the junta deeper control over the internet.
The act allows the National Cybersecurity Committee, run by Thailand's generals, to summon individuals for questioning and enter private property without court orders in case of actual or anticipated 'serious cyber threats'. Court warrants are
not required for action in emergency cases and criminal penalties will be imposed on those who do not comply with official orders.
The authorities can now search and seize data and hardware without a warrant if a threat is identified by the unaccountable body.