Deputy Prime Minister Pol Capt Chalerm Yubamrung is set to begin his crackdown on websites offensive to the monarchy, and has sought a budget of 400 million baht to buy new equipment to block foreign websites.
On 12 Dec, before a meeting of his recently appointed committee to suppress inappropriate internet content at the Royal Thai Police, Chalerm said that previous governments had tried to deal with inappropriate content but had failed. Some people claimed that because some websites were located abroad, it was difficult to take legal action against them, but for websites in the country they could not make any arrest. So they just lied. Websites abroad cannot be banned, but can be blocked, he said.
He said that an expert, a Deputy Commander of the police Technology Crime Suppression Division, had told him that there was technology which can ‘cut the signal’ of websites from abroad and requires a budget of 400 million baht. So he had told the Prime Minister’s Secretary to have the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology prepare the budget and procurement.
He said that he and the Police Chief did not want to manage the budget themselves, but the police would be willing to work.
From now on, offensive content must decrease, and harsh measures will be taken, he said.
Chalerm said that some people were concerned about the image of the country in the eyes of NGOs and other countries, but this was Thailand, and this was not a violation of people’s rights.
When reporters raised the point that some anti-monarchy groups were associated with red shirts, Chalerm said that whoever broke the law must be arrested, no matter what colour.
According to the meeting, the MICT has a list of 200 websites in Thailand which are considered offensive to the monarchy, and is prepared to deal with these websites in coordination with the police.
It was reported that on 6 Dec, Chalerm and Police Chief Pol Gen Priewpan Damapong had lunch with Army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha and Minister of Defence Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapha, and concerns were raised about offensive content on the internet. The Prime Minister appointed this committee on the following day as proposed by Chalerm.