Beat the Censors–Unblock ICT!

June 11, 2007


Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has distributed thousands of copies of a free CD-ROM, “Beat the Censors–Unblock ICT!” at Pantip Plaza, Fortune Town, Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Kasetsart, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Prince of Songkhla universities, “a gift of freedom” for Thai Internet users.

FACT is proud to strike a blow for freedom by making available this CD of circumvention software and instructions, plus MICT’s most current and past secret blocklists (‘the owner’s manual’–want to see what they don’t want you to see?) and links to FACT’s website and petition. “Put the petty bureaucracy of senseless censors to bed.”“Censorship is a totalitarian system used as a tool of oppression against human rights and civil liberties, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, academic freedom, media freedom, the free exchange of ideas and freedom of thought.  Censorship acts against democracy.  Censorship suppresses dissent. Censorship is terrorism.”

FACT’s CD is already spreading virally from user to user in Thailand and will also remain available on FACT’s website; dozens of software vendors at computer venues have already begun selling FACT’s copyright-free CD.  In addition, FACT’s “Beat the Censors” CD is available internationally on BitTorrent peer-to-peer networks.

FACT calls the CD its first “weapon of mass instruction”.  In fact, the disk is applicable for use in any censored country.  Unblock the world!

“Beat the Censors–Unblock ICT!” features 41 software applications to circumvent Website-blocking by Thai censors.  Tor, Ultrasurf and many browser add-ons from websites and weblinks blocked by Thai Internet censors are made available in a complete, virus-free installer package for the first time.

In an age when high-tech companies are embracing radical transparency (even Microsoft), Thailand’s ICT Ministry has retreated to the comforting, secret darkness of its cave.  All of MICT’s activities are conducted in absolute secrecy from a Thai public which pays its bills at a budget of five BILLION baht a year.  MICT keeps its blocklists secret and will not even tell how many websites it blocks.  We have a right to know and we have a right to freedom.

The ICT Minister, Dr. Sitthichai Pokaiyaudom, has been variously quoted in the Thai press making various statements that, since coming to office in October 2006 as “Official Censor of the Military Coup”, his Ministry has blocked “only two”, “five”, “about a dozen” websites.

More recently, the Official Censor has been quoted as saying he’s blocked “not over 20 websites” (Thai Rath: May 29, 2007), “only around 30, all of which were pornographic” (Bangkok Post: May 30, 2007) which censorship Dr. Sitthichai comments is “not as severe a violation of human rights” as blocking done under the Thaksin government!

However, the Minister goes on to say, he certainly has not been responsible for blocking “13,000 websites” which he blames on the previous administration, accusing it of being “many times more of a dictator“, presumably in comparison with himself! (Thai Rath: May 29, 2007)

Fine…except that the previous government blocked 2,400 sites at the top of its game. MICT’s most recent blocklist, downloaded from their website, consists of 11,329 sites with MICT’s own numbering system all the way up to 17,793.

FACT believes the difference in these numbers indicates websites which were blocked and then were taken off the blocklists for various reasons such as the website being removed or MICT realising it was blocked in error. A website blocked for 10 seconds inadvertently or in error is still censorship.

(Dr. Sitthichai may also have overlooked YouTube; not only is the entire domain still blocked by MICT but so also are 75 separate pages within that domain, just to make extra sure!  Not two, not five, not a dozen, not even 20 or 30.  Dr. Sitthichai has already claimed credit for blocking YouTube so it is inescapable that these 75 pages were blocked on his watch.

It is highly unlikely that these 75 are copycats of the original videoclip insulting our King.  The question is, what is on them from which our moral guardians decided we needed protection.)

The Minister also states that he expects not to block more than “60″ websites before the term of the coup government expires (Thai Rath: May 29, 2007). Now we’re laughing until we are crying!  Mr. Minister, what about the 90 websites MICT blocked in May alone or the 9,000 between October and January?!?

Other Ministry officials have told a team of human rights lawyers from Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society investigating Internet censorship in Thailand that MICT blocks “around 2,000″ websites on January 11, the very day FACT downloaded a copy of MICT’s secret blocklist of 13,435 blocked sites from MICT’s own servers.

Later that month, on January 26, the same MICT official told the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand that MICT blocks “around 50″ websites.

So which is it?  MICT’s own blocklists don’t lie but it seems their bureaucrats do. This attitude of impunity is more than just simple government obfuscation or bureaucratic confusion. It is even more serious than a smoke-and-mirrors, laissez-faire approach to the truth.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology is, in fact, engaged in deliberate deception of the Thai public and the manipulation of public opinion for political gain.

Even The Royal Thai Police, the Thai Webmasters Association and Thai ISPs support MICT releasing their criteria for blocking websites at the very least which, thus far, they have refused to do.  When government hides behind a veil of absolute deniability, one wonders what else they might be hiding.

FACT has now made it possible for any computer user to simply ignore Web censorship by using software along with anonymous proxy servers to circumvent censorship, accessing previous and current secret official MICT blocklists and FACT’s commentary and analysis.  All information is available in Thai and English.

Reporters Without Borders’ Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents is on the disk with portions translated into Thai.

FACT’s petitions to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and the Official Information Commission are also on the “Beat the Censors” disk.

FACT’s Constitutional proposals against censorship and FACT’s recommendations against censorship and supporting privacy provisions (none of which were included in the final law) in the Computer-Related Crimes Act are featured.

“Beat the Censors” also contains FACT’s sections on the new Printing Act revisions against book censorship and Internet access to books banned in Thailand as well as information from FACT’s Banned Books Project.

“Beat the Censors” is sponsored by FACT’s more than 600 signers with the support of over 70 international human rights and civil liberties organisations.

FACT’s CD-ROM is cross-platform and may be used by all versions of Windows, Linux and Macintosh computers.

Where there is no transparency in government, there is also no accountability.  Who is responsible for this tyranny of the majority our moral guardians presume?

The censors have no power unless we give it to them.  Censorship is the last refuge of dictatorship.  “If you want freedom, first be free.”  Now FACT has provided the means for Internet users in Thailand to make Web freedom a reality.  “Beat the Censors” is Thailand’s passport to Internet freedom.


3 Responses to “Beat the Censors–Unblock ICT!”

  1. […] sites in Thailand, the anti-censorship group FACT (Freedom Against Censorship Thailand) has started distributing a CD titled “Beat the Censors” that contains programs to circumvent the blocks and other anti-censorship resources. “The […]

  2. Says:

    วิธีทะลุบล็อกเว็บไซต์ที่ถูก ICT บล็อกหรือเว็บไซต์ต่างประเทศ
    สนใจ ทดสอบฟรี

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