Recent censorship in review-Global Voices

May 2, 2010

Thailand: Online censorship amid protests

Mong Palatino

Global Voices: April 29, 2010

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/04/29/thailand-online-censorship-amid-protests/

As Red Shirt protesters continue to press their demand for the resignation of Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the government is also doing everything to weaken the protests, including the use of emergency powers to block TV stations, community radio stations, and websites that broadcast “subversive” stories.

There are more than 16 million internet users in Thailand and both the pro and anti government forces are bringing their propaganda in the cyberspace to influence the opinion of online Thais.

To prevent the Red Shirts from succeeding in the cyber war, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has authorized the blocking of 36 websites early this month. But press freedom advocates reported that thousands of websites have been blocked already. They claim the number has already reached 65,000. CJ Hinke reports:

April 9, third day of martial law, the Deputy PM’s CRES center authorised the ICT ministry to block further websites and Twitter if they were being ‘provocative’ in inciting disunity. He stated that a further 9-10,000 websites (press reports vary) had been blocked since the start of Red rallies in March and that a list of 700 more will follow. Obviously this list had been prepared long beforehand to take advantage of the fact court orders were not necessary.

However, these new government figures bring the total number of websites blocked in Thailand near to 65,000.

NNT uploaded this April 10 brief statement from the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has now been strictly curbing all defamatory internet contents that likely pose serious threat to national security with an aim of preventing further division in the society.

Meanwhile, the internet users have been warned to use the internet in the right way or with appropriate purpose and avoid disseminating information that could create misunderstanding or instigate violent actions among the public. Also, all popular websites and social networks such as facebook, twitter, hi5 and my space will be under thorough watch.

Violators will be prosecuted by law with no compromise.

The following day, the Ministry reported that they were able to detect 300 websites everyday that instigate violence

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) has daily detected over 300 websites containing radical political views that instigated violent actions among the public.

MICT urged for public cooperation to report defamatory internet contents via Hotline 1212 or email them directly to 1212@mict.mail.go.th.

The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation is recommending the closure of additional 190 “dangerous” websites

The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation has ordered the MICT to close 190 websites, of which over 60% are claimed to be politically seditious. Since the red shirt protests started, the MICT has ordered the blocking of about 500 URLs per day on average.

About 7-8 URLs of the YouTube website where seditious clips were posted have been ordered closed

Thai Journalists’ Association and the Thailand Cable TV Association issued this statement in response to the censorship activities of the state

The blockade of information like this definitely affected the people’s rights to free information. The people affected by the information blockade could come out to demonstrate in a bigger number and could cause the situation to be more complicated and lead to violence.

A group of former senators of Thailand made this demand

Stop all the obstruction of public information flows and news reports presented in print media, radio and TV stations, telecommunications, the Internet and all other kind of media, in order to return the constitutional rights to information and expression to the people.

FACT – – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand asks if the government secured a court order before it blocked the “seditious” websites

The new cebnsorship means that Thailand blocks nearly 65,000 websites. So we have a few questions for the ICT minister. Why are your blocklists not made public with the reasons for each block? Did you get court orders to block these 10,000 more websites as required by the Computer Crimes Act prior to martial law? Why won’t you make these court orders public?

Reading the tweets from Bangkok in the past 24 hours, it seems censorship is still imposed on several websites, including Facebook

naruta_noo_mu: The URL you requested has been blocked. URL = http://www.facebook.com/
Nok_Kasama: RT @bangkokpundit If they start asking Abhisit hard Qs, will the govt censor BBC? (yes this is a joke) // and I laugh about it.
elgrodo: Wonder if one should refer to Internet censorship here as ‘The Great Tyrewall of Thailand’
MyselFlesyM: Facebook was blocked
bkkbase: Amazing Thailand. Never know which website blocked message will show up next.
VictorBurgundy: it seems like CNN has been blocked from the internet in BKK, maybe pitched battle is happening between UDD & soldiers on Vasapat soi
thaimythbuster: Reporters Without Borders is also surprised by a court ruling upholding the government’s censorship of PTV,
farangone: RT @pdouble0k: Springnews is blocked by the Gov
MB2MB: RT @vaitor: recent survey on political censorship at bangkok university: 68% angry with tv/internet censorship but only 27% would fight for free speech

Thailand is listed as one of the countries in the world which is accused of enforcing media censorship. Several journalists and individuals have been charged and jailed already for lese majeste.

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