YouTube, Prachatai, Same Sky blocked illegally, again-Khao Den Praden Ron

May 17, 2008

[FACT comments: The new ICT Minister shows his true colours, following in the esteemed footsteps of his predecessor, the Official Censor of the Military Coup! FACT has supplied emphasis and comments below. FACT urges everyone to download a copy of our Beat the Censors-Unblock ICT! CD  and simply ignore MICT’s blatant and illegal censorship.]

Interview with Minister of Information and Communication Technology concerning website blockage :
“Khao Den Praden Ron” News Program

Prachatai: May 17, 2008

On the evening of 14 May 2008, the “Khao Den Praden Ron” news programme on FM 96.5 MHz aired a telephone interview with Dr. Man Pattanotai, Minister of Information and Communication Technology concerning reports on the blockage of websites featuring lèse majesté messages or images. Reportedly, at least three websites have been blocked so far, including Prachatai, Fah Diaw Kan and YouTube. Users of the TOT internet service provider were denied access to Prachatai a little prior to 23.00 on 14 May 2008, and then Fah Diaw Kan. Access to Prachatai was restored at around 11.30 on 15 May 2008.

The following is a transcript of the interview concerning the denial of access to certain websites in instructions from the MICT.


Broadcast from 17.35 to 19.00 on 14 May 2008 at Think Radio, 96.5 MCOT
Moderated by Patchara Sarapimpa and Wisuth Khomwatcharapong


Patchara: The big news today is that the MICT ordered a ban on three websites alleged to feature lèse majesté contents. After a commercial break, we will get to hear from the Minister of ICT, Dr. Man Pattanotai.


Patchara: The MICT just issued an order today.
Wisuth: What kind of an order?
Patchara: An order to ban websites.
Wisuth: Ban?
Patchara: Ban all websites featuring lèse majesté messages and images.
Wisuth: Here we are, which ones are banned this time?
Patchara: Well, we will talk to the MICT and find out. It seems they invoked their authority under the Cyber Crime Act 2007 which became effective just this year. [FACT: We’d like to know precisely which article of the Computer-Related Crimes Act MICT used. We can’t find any provision in the Act which makes such blockage legal.]
Wisuth: They did not ban the Hi Thaksin website, right? They just asked them to remove some images. Now, they’ve ordered a further ban. Which websites are banned this time?
Patchara: Is he on the line?
Wisuth: Not yet.
Patchara: OK, according to news we just received, last week, the MICT called a meeting of internet service providers asking for their cooperation in eliminating from all websites any messages and images constituting lèse majesté. Several ISPs have been very cooperative so far. But later the MICT even threatened to dispatch officers to inspect them, and if they find any websites that feature lèse majesté contents, they will immediately block the websites.
Wisuth: Yes.
Patchara: The MICT announced also that if anyone comes across websites featuring lèse majesté content, they can call this toll free number, 1111, to inform them.
Wisuth: Four digits, 1111, not three digits.
Patchara: Otherwise, people can report to Reportedly, there are three websites banned by the MICT.
Wisuth: ICT Minister.
Patchara: That’s right, they are Prachatai.
Wisuth: Prachatai, then what?
Patchara: Fah Diaw Kan.
Wisuth: Fah Diaw Kan, OK. Then.
Patchara: YouTube
Wisuth: YouTube, altogether three websites.
Patchara: We will ask the Minister what they were trying to block on the three websites, and how.
Wisuth: And why, too.
Patchara: Did they just ask for cooperation, or simply invoke their power to ban the websites.
Wisuth: And how long will they block them?
Patchara: Are these websites still blocked? There has been news that MICT wanted to block some websites, but they could not since some websites are registered abroad. The servers they use are located abroad. So they could only ask for their cooperation.
Wisuth: And they blocked some websites briefly, and then let them go. We will talk to the Minister about this.

Commercial and news break

Patchara: Here we are going to talk with the ICT Minister, Dr. Man Pattanotai.
Patchara, Wisuth: Good afternoon sir.
MICT : Good afternoon, Khun Patchara and Khun Wisuth. I have been engaged on different lines and am sorry for being late.
Wisuth: How many websites have been blocked so far?
MICT : Hello.
Patchara: Sir, how many websites have been blocked so far?
MICT : Well, our officers are dealing with them We blocked both messages and images. In fact, we have been doing this for a week. In most cases, it is difficult since the webhosting service providers are located outside the country.
Patchara: That’s right.
MICT: They are in California, Texas, New Jersey, we know where they are all located. We have received cooperation only from Google California and YouTube. [FACT: Money talks, bullshit walks.] During the APEC ministerial meeting in Bangkok, I talked with their Minister, and then Mr. David Cross, a diplomat from Washington. They knew the administration of Google and understood Thai culture. They knew well how we felt. After that contact, the content disappeared.
Patchara: Not on Google anymore?
MICT : No, no longer on either Google or YouTube, I mean they are not available in Thailand. But of course, they cannot deny the access to the content worldwide.
Wisuth: That’s right, we have no access to them from here, but elsewhere.
Patchara: So if people use ISPs in the country, they can no longer have access to YouTube?
MICT : There are more than 200 internet service providers in Thailand, and we, and CAT know them all. So if they are in Thailand, we can deal with them because we have the law. I have to thank Khun Patchara and Khun Wisuth for reading out the penalty, they deserve it if they are not loyal.
Patchara: What really happened, sir? From the news I read, it was MICT asking for cooperation. But the latest news was that MICT simply issued an order to ban some websites. So in fact, you invoked your power to impose the ban, rather than to seek cooperation, right?
MICT: Yes, I just ordered them closed. Of course, we understand that it is inappropriate to use the term, and it would be more pleasing to say we asked for cooperation. But they know what “asking for cooperation” means. [FACT: Yes, we certainly do know what “asking for cooperation” means in Thailand!]
Patchara: So you just invoked your legal power?
MICT : Yes, we are clearly authorized by the criminal laws.
Patchara: But why did not you say you banned the websites by yourself?
MICT : We have to seek court warrants. [FACT: Oops, MICT didn’t read the law. The Act clearly states that websites may only be blocked by court order. MICT did nolt seek a court order and is thus censoring as they always have, a law unto themselves with no recourse to justice.]
Patchara: That’s right.
Wisuth: Now, they are just ordered to close, anything else?
MICT We just cited the criminal laws to ban them.
Patchara: And Fah Diaw Kan and Prachatai are banned because..?
MICT : They have content about the monarchy. Thai people cannot bear this, and no one can. Not just me or my officers. Even the former ICT Minister, Sitthichai Pokaiyaudom, once he was informed about this, he asked me to ban them. And he would encourage folk who have the knowledge to hack the websites. [FACT: Note that the Minister said “content”. What MICT is blocking is Thai people involved in public discussion; we are obviously not allowed freedom of opinion or expression.] Everyone is helping us. Even operators of internet services who have the knowledge in hacking also help us. [FACT: Did we just hear the ICT Minister incite a criminal act?!? Hacking is definitely illegal under the Cybercrime Act.]
Patchara: So we can no longer access the contents in YouTube?
MICT : Yes
Patchara: We cannot access them from Thailand?
MICT : Yes, but you can from elsewhere.
Patchara: So the websites, like, YouTube , still have the material, but you have to access the contents from abroad.
MICT: I am not sure which proxy servers they are using, probably from India, or Malaysia. We have to keep tracking them down and blocking them.
Patchara: They are websites registered abroad.
MICT : Yes
Patchara: What about Prachatai or Fah Diaw Kan, are they registered abroad?
MICT : (coughing) I’d better not name it.
Patchara: Are they in Thailand?
MICT : It’s better for me not to name it. [FACT: Okay, so just what is the Minister hiding???]
Wisuth: In Thailand, after blocking the access, will you also pursue legal prosecution?
MICT : The MICT officers can just monitor them.
Patchara: Just monitoring?
MICT : Well, the criminal laws put this clearly. And the DSI (Department of Special Investigation) and the Crime Suppression Division also keep monitoring, and military intelligence as well. [FACT: Ah, so now censorship also falls to military jurisdiction, too!]
Patchara: How?
MICT : We have our joint taskforce, and we maintain cooperation.
Patchara: And then what, will there be a prosecution or not?
MICT : We know that some of them are afraid and on the run. We have to call them rogue websites, the illegal websites. They do the websites secretly, make them available for some time, and then close them down. Some websites are just accessible after midnight. We know about this from the USA. Because when it is daytime in USA, it is nighttime here. [FACT: We’d like to see some examples of this.]
Patchara: Yes
MICT : We cannot be too complacent.
Patchara: So will the MICT pursue any legal action against them, too? After you blocked the websites, and the websites are closed, but before they are closed they featured this content.
MICT : Well, Khun Patchara, we have a policy on this but I cannot elaborate on it. There is no need to pursue legal action. [FACT:  Seems MICT is a “rogue” ministry, acting as police, judge, jury, executioner.]
Patchara: It is simply a policy now.
MICT : Khun Patchara should know I cannot elaborate on this.
Patchara: You mean you do not want to pursue legal action against them, right?
MICT: Doing so will it become a big scandal. We’d better suppress the news. Someone higher than me is of this opinion.
[FACT: So is the Minister simply trying to dodge his responsibility if the doo-doo hits the fan? Are Thai people to accept that “higher ups” in government are also above the laws of the land? Have they happened to read Thailand’s Constitution?]
Patchara: OK, we have to thank the ICT Minister for kindly…
MICT : I just want to inform you that apart from our website, we have the number 1111, and anyone can call in. I want to check as well how frequently our centre has been informed about this matter. And if someone calls in and receives no response, call me up and I will ask the officers. [FACT: Anybody have his number?]
Patchara: OK, we ask our audience to call in.
MICT : Yes, we all have to help.
Patchara: 1111, free of charge?
MICT : Yes, free of charge.
Patchara, Wisuth: Thank you very much, sir.
MICT : Thank you.


Translated by Pipob Udomittipong

3 Responses to “YouTube, Prachatai, Same Sky blocked illegally, again-Khao Den Praden Ron”

  1. […] both 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 […]

  2. […] both 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 […]

  3. […] However, both 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 […]

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