Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has just received secret blocklists leaked from Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. We know they’re secret because each one is stamped à¸¥à¸±à¸š!
Under conditions imposed by the Computer-Related Crimes Act 2007, no website may be legally blocked without a court order. In fact, this pesky legal stipulation is not rigorously adhered to and both the Royal Thai Police and the more than 100 Thai ISPs typically block as they wish.
However, the leaked blocklists, dated June 27 (nine webpages), July 21 (19 pages of 403 webpages), August 1 (four pages of 63 webpages), December 1 (24 pages of 400 webpages), December 8 (24 pages of 400 webpages) and 28 further undated webpages, are accompanied by court orders detailing applications of the Ministry which authorise most of the websites censored. The court orders to ISPs cite reasons of lese majeste and national security and are dated June 27, August 1, August 25 and December 9 signed by ICT ministry officers Thanit Prapatnan à¸˜à¸™à¸´à¸• à¸›à¸£à¸°à¸ à¸²à¸•à¸™à¸±à¸™à¸—à¹Œ and Aree Jiworarak à¸à¸²à¸£à¸µà¸¢à¹Œ à¸ˆà¸´à¸§à¸£à¸£à¸±à¸à¸©à¹Œ.
Blocked websites are located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, the European Union, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Vietnam.
Court orders are not customarily sealed from public view. In fact, maintaining such documents via an open judicial process as a matter of public record is a crucial democratic cornerstone. However, these court orders authorising web-blocking are the first to come to light under the new cybercrime law.
Every site requested for blocking has the stated reason of lese majeste, however, it is obvious that many sites were blocked for quite different reasons. It would appear, in fact, that the court did not examine each site before issuing its order but instead relied on MICT’s judgement.
Although we have not yet found the opportunity to examine each website censored, as in the past, an eclectic mix of censorship has been revealed resulting in overblocking of many benign webpages.
Along with the obligatory YouTube videos and their mirror sites alleged to be lese majeste in Thailand, numerous blocks to Thai webboard pages, particularly at popular discussion sites, Prachatai (45 separate pages) and Same Sky (56 separate pages). Of course, all webboards in Thailand, including Prachatai and Same Sky, moderate all threads and discussions and self-censor to avoid closure. It is interesting that bureaucrats still find reasons to censor.
Also blocked are weblogs referencing Paul Handley’s unauthorised Biography of Thailand’s King Bhumibhol, The King Never Smiles, and its translation into Thai along with Thai Wikipedia entries.
The webpages of respected Thai Buddhist social critic, Sulak Sivaraksa who is currently on bail for his fourth accusation of lese majeste, and Matthew Hunt, respected Thai journalist, anticensorship activist and FACT signer, are also blocked as are pages of the respected international newsmagazine, The Economist.
A total of 860 YouTube videos have been blocked, far in excess of the blocking conducted by The Official Censor of the Military Coup; a further 200 pages mirroring those videos are also blocked.
Curiously, “bum fight movies”, Hillary Clinton’s campaign videos, and 24 Charlie Chaplin videos have also been blocked, perhaps due to their Web location at Clown-Ministry.
While we may never learn the real extent of government Internet censorship, these blocklists provide us some perspective for analysis in the current ultra-Royalist social climate.
Typically, web censorship in Thailand is conducted in secret. We think there is a right to know inherent in a free society. We call for transparency and accountability in government and freedom of expression, freedom of communication and freedom of association as fundamental human rights.