FACT files Freedom of Information complaint

April 3, 2007

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) today filed a formal complaint with Thailand’s Official Information Commission over the refusal of the ICT Ministry to disclose details of its Internet censorship.

FACT represents 311 petitioners and 59 international human rights and civil liberties organisations.
On February 9, FACT requested the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to disclose its censorship under the freedom of information provisions of the Official Information Act.

On March 8, MICT responded to FACT’s 20 questions by claiming that it blocks the Internet under martial law. If this is so, what laws were used to implement Web-blocking prior to Thailand’s military coup d’etat on September 19?

MICT further refuses to disclose its blocklist, the criteria it uses to ban websites or the means it uses to implement blocking. The Ministry refuses even to disclose the number of websites blocked citing issues of national security and law enforcement, two of the grounds a government agency may refuse to provide public information.

FACT finds these grounds willful and self-serving. We fail to see how the number of websites blocked and their reasons for doing so could possibly bring harm to the Thai public.

The reply also states, “The ICT Ministry has never blocked web discussion boards.” They may have forgotten the case of Midnight University, currently unblocked by court order. Pages from the Thai webboards, Pantip.com, Thaimisc.com, Doball.net, Thai.net, Sakulthai.com and Kruaklaibaan.com have all been censored on MICT’s blocklists.

FACT considers MICT’s refusal one more example of a government of impunity, acting above and outside the law.

All democratic government must provide full disclosure to the public, be accountable and transparent.

FACT invites all interested parties to sign its petition against censorship at the Asian Human Rights Commission website <http://thailand.ahrchk.net/fact_petition/&gt;.

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