October 28, 2008 |
The news from Bangkok today is that Thai government is planning a large-scale campaign to block websites denouncing the much-beloved Thai monarchy, the king himself and the members of the royal family.
Thailand is known for similar actions in the past when the country’s government blocked access to YouTube in 2007 because of a video clip mocking the King of the nation. But this time the campaign is going to be much more noticeable as the government will spend an amount in the range from $2.9 million to $14.6 million to block access to websites that are considered to be insulting the country’s monarch or have other inappropriate content.
The Ministry of Communications claims it has already received more than a thousand complains about content of websites insulting the monarchy so they have decided time has come to start acting by monitoring and blocking such websites. But of course the list of the websites under investigation already is not made public not to encourage internet users to visit them. The only thing we know is that the vast majority (over 80%) of inappropriate websites originate from abroad and are not hosted in Thailand itself.
To be fair, from what I have read Thailand is a country where the king is actually beloved by the entire population and insult to the king can very well be deemed as an insult to the nation itself as people are definitely not happy when the king is denounced in any way.
But to me the suspicious part is in “other inappropriate content” as Thailand has recently undergone a severe political crisis with tons of anti-government protests taking place in the country. So blocking some websites may be a measure to simply silence any future attempts from people unhappy about the current government to voice their protests or use their online presence as a means to organize civil commotions in the future. Thus to me this planned campaign seems to be a yet another step to ensure efficient censorship of the internet that Thai government will rely on to block whatever websites are supposed to be inappropriate or harmful to the government itself instead of the monarchy.
Image via Wikipedia.