Thai authorities condemned for allowing internet providers to block lèse majesté websites as they wish

Thailand’s leading Internet freedom advocacy group has condemned the Thai authorities for allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block lèse majesté and other websites viewed as threats to national security the moment they see one.    

Thai Netizen Network (TNN), an Internet advocacy group promoting internet freedom and rights to online privacy, on Tuesday issued a statement condemning the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) after the NBTC gave authority to ISPs to exercise their own judgement in blocking lèse majesté websites and online content related to national security without court warrants or even consultations with the NBTC or the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT).

The NBTC’s decision was reached during a Monday meeting with Special Branch Police (SBP), the police division responsible for national security-related crimes. NBTC and SBP also urged people to report lèse majesté online content as soon as they see any.

According to Thai Netizen, NBTC’s order to purge lèse majesté websites will significantly worsen the state of online freedom in Thailand.   

“When the NBTC ordered ISPs to block [lèse majesté] websites without court warrants or even the approval of the NBTC, which can be done in 30 seconds, the question arises how many mistakes and abuses of rights will no longer be recorded as a result of this powerful new tool without checks and balances,” stated the Thai Netizen Network.

“The more important question is which law has the NBTC used in censoring Internet content because the preconditions of all ISP operations specify only their telecommunication resources, network standards, and freedom of users. There is no precondition about content filtering,” it added.

Thai Netizen also urged the NBTC to remain independent and work for the public interest rather than trying to appease the coup makers, which contradicts the duty of the NBTC.

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Thai authority urges internet providers to use their own judgement to block lese majeste websites