Internet Freedom in Thailand

Internet security works both ways – both to protect the individual’s information, but also to protect government organizations from criticism. While hackers are condemned for breaking into secure internet facilities, often those bloggers, journalists and activists who find their way around internet censorship are regarded as heroes.

In Thailand the internet is a dangerous technology. The Freedom on the Net 2011 report listed Thailand as ’not free’. It is easy to see why. On September 19th 2006 the Thai army staged a successful coup. The fifth order of the new regime was to appoint a new head of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT). This lackey quickly set about blocking websites critical of the coup. By October 2,475 websites had been blocked. By January 2007 the number increased by 500% to 13,435. The main reason for blocking these websites was criticism of the new regime.

Thailand still has a lese majeste law that covers all forms of publication including spoken utterance. Anyone found guilty of commenting critically of the King can be arrested by the remit of the lese majeste law and put in prison. All pleas to judges over this law have fallen on deaf ears – old, young, Thai nationals and foreigners have been imprisoned for many years under this catch-all law.

It is not only the individual webmasters, bloggers and those who tweet who are liable for arrest – also ISPs are arrrested.

The reasons to block websites are not just to protect the good name of the King of Thailand, but also to prevent distrurbing the peace or endangering National Security. Really this means endangering the rule of the junta.

So if you are on holiday in Bor Saen in Phang-Nga, Changmai, Phuket, Koh Chang, Krabi or anywhere else in Thailand beware of what you write on the internet. Comments are monitored and although the government is now democratically elected it is able to get you locked up if it can construe your comments as being against the King.

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