Under martial law, Thai authorities shut down some websites, vow to shut down others in 1 hour, threaten internet intermediaries, and say “This is not censorship”Submitted by prachatai on Thu, 22/05/2014 - 07:54
Under the century-old martial law declared by the army, a special body, set up on Wednesday to be responsible for internet censorship, vowed to shut down websites in an hour.
The body is composed of representatives from the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), the police, and the army’s special peacekeeping body, the Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC).
The body was set up following an order issued by POMC under martial law on Tuesday which prohibits internet users from disseminating content which “may cause conflict and violence.”
Thakorn Tanthasit, a NBTC commissioner, said six “inappropriate” websites have been blocked with the cooperation of True Corp, one of the biggest Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Thailand. The NBTC has also “asked for cooperation” from Thai ISPs to shut down websites within one hour.
“This is to ask for cooperation in monitoring content which may affect peace and order. THIS IS NOT CENSORSHIP AT ALL, but a blockade only of content or websites which may contravene public morals and cause conflict and unrest and a threat to national security,” the Commissioner told media on Wednesday after a meeting between the censorship body and 105 Thai ISPs.
He admitted that it will be more difficult to shut down websites hosted overseas, but said the ISPs could shut them down at the Gateway.
The Commissioner added that the POMC will summon big social media services, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Line to talk about “cooperation”.
After several months of Thai political conflict, and pressure on the military from the pro-establishment side to stage a coup d’état, the army, led by Army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, decided to intervene by illegally declaring martial law on Tuesday. 14 satellite TV channels and an unknown number of unlicensed community radio stations have been shut down. The army also prohibits the media from interviewing critics.