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Thailand: Government shuts 43,000 more websites for lèse majesté, plans to block 3,000 more, total up to 113,000

On May 9, MICT and CRES admitted to blocking at least 50,000 websites and adding 500 more per day. It appears FACT was blocked from that date. FACT’s extensive testing across Thai ISPs has revealed that ISPs are blocking at least a further 15,000 bringing the total to more than 65,000. In the second week of May, CRES announced blocking of 770 new websites; on May 26, CRES announced blocking of 1,150 more. If we add these new figures to 46,000 websites, Thailand is blocking at least 113,000 websites!

On June 15, the Thai cabinet approved the creation of a Bureau of Prevention and Eradication of Computer Crime to “protect the monarchy”. The new office adds to censors at the ICT Ministry, the Royal Thai Police, military agencies CRES and CAPO, an Army ‘war room’ and the Culture ministry. Can’t have too many censors! (We may have missed some…)

On June 17, Thailand’s new ICT minister announced a blacklist of 200 persons banned from posting to the Internet. This restriction was undefined but presumably all sites bearing these names will be blocked. Although the names of former PM office minister Jakrapob Penkair and Chulalongkorn University professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn, both in exile over flimsy lèse majesté charges, are known to be on the blacklist, the rest of the list is secret. This means people can’t defend their reputations. Are you on the list? Am I?

Included in the announcement of the blacklist on June 17, government is threatening to “take charge” of websites it doesn’t like!

Thailand is rapidly become an Internet desert approaching leaders’ paranoia in Burma and North Korea.

IT industry and development will surely be looking for the exits.

Government shuts 43,000 more websites for lèse majesté, plans to block 3,000 more, total up to 113,000 – Manager: June 18, 2010 – Translated by Frank G. Anderson.

Piraphan (Justice), Juti (ICT), Niphit (Culture)

ICT – Justice – Culture sign an MOU protecting the monarchy from cyber attack, disclose shutting down 43,000 monarchy-defaming websites, with three thousand more waiting orders to be closed. The new agency to open within three months. The people have to know what they are doing.

At 09:00 am at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Mr. Juti Krairirk, Minister, together with Mr. Phiraphan Saliratwiphak, Minister of Justice, and Mr. Niphit Inthornsombat, Minister of Culture, gave a joint press conference and signed a joint effort memorandum among the three ministries for protecting the monarchy, society and the people from threats from impact from communications technology and inappropriate communications.

Mr. Juti stated that at present inasmuch as threats to national security were being thwarted only by the military, there were still threats of magnitude against the monarchy and dangers against security, the Justice Ministry had to provide oversight because it was deemed to be extremely close [to the King]. Therefore the memorandum of joint cooperation was signed under the policy of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, in order to give the three ministries and all agencies associated with relevant networks integrated operations to oversee, protect and prevent from occurring any threats to the institution of the monarchy. This includes following and apprehending any group to prevent legal wrongdoing such as behavior like gambling, and online pornography which are harmful to children and youth.

“We will have substantial resolutions for protection and prevention. At the beginning there will be a joint effort with the Ministry of Justice to review resolutions related to security, the economy, and society, to jointly set up agencies to proceed with these tasks. In addition, there has already been cooperation among the three ministries to use the law and those joined together to carry out these duties,” the ICT Minister said.

Mr. Phiraphan stated that coordination of joint cooperation between the three ministries will result in quick action by overseeing threats to security. In any event, as to the Ministry of Justice in the past, there were orders to close 43,000 websites that defamed the monarchy, and there are another 3,000 awaiting to be closed after orders have been issued. As well, groups are being continually apprehended that commit offenses related to the above. In this, I would like society to join together in realizing that the institution of the monarchy is different from institutions in foreign countries, whereby in Thailand the institution of the monarchy is included in one Thai legal provision under national security. Therefore it is necessary that information on the Internet be correct.

“The institution of the Thai monarchy is related to society and the Thai people in a form different from institutions in other countries, whereby in Thailand it is held that if there were no monarchy it is not known whether there would be any Thailand today or not. As such, the monarchy is held to be the most important institution in the nation. Therefore, there is a necessity to construct correct understanding among Thai people and foreigners because problems that occur on the Internet are not problems that occur just for children and young and society, but also pose extreme dangers that have to be quickly dealt with – that is, dangers to the security of the nation’s highest institution,” the Minister of Justice said.

Mr. Niphat said, “Affixing signatures to this memorandum will hold us to joint principles, that is, everyone has the same king. This, no matter what ideas may be in other matters which is a right of individual choice, in the matter of the monarchy, everyone must have the duty to join in protecting it, whereby the Justice Ministry will integrate with others to enforce related laws. For example, there is the Film and Video Act of 2008, and prime ministerial regulations Creative Media and National Security Act of 2008, together with a strong network of more than one million persons of culture assisting. Regardless, the people should see results from the signing of this joint MOU within three months, whereby the three government ministries will have the duty to proceed and produce indicators reflecting [the results of this effort.”].

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