Like China, and Russia, Thailand is starting to push harder and harder for stricter internet censorship. Thailand’s government has been putting pressure on huge websites like Facebook and YouTube in the past, but these websites have not responded quickly or effectively to their demands to remove content. Now, Thailand’s military junta is trying to remove content through internet service providers–giving a strict and final deadline of this coming Monday.
From May 1st to July 16th, there were 3,726 pages deemed illicit by the Thai Government, and as of this past Thursday 1,834 pages have already been removed. Facebook itself was responsible for removing 41% of the offending pages while Youtube removed roughly 80%. The remaining pages on the block list are encrypted and served over HTTPS, which is why the Thai Government is putting pressure on internet service providers to block these websites directly.
Last Thursday, Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission told reps at the Internet Service Provider Association that if ISPs didn’t comply with the military junta by Monday (8/7/2017) that they would face prosecution.
Thai ISP’s who refuse to comply could possibly lose their operating license or be forced to shut down servers that service large websites.
Takorn Tantasith, the Thai regulator secretary-general, explains that the Thai ISPs “are registered in Thailand and must comply with Thai law and court orders,” and that they also “suggest that Facebook and YouTube help ISPs remove the web pages.” The regulator has flagged thousands of pages hosted on Facebook and Youtube as “illicit content” but what is categorized as such has not been specified so far. The ban seems to be meant for posts that have already been targeted, but not yet removed.
Critics speculate that a majority of posts flagged for removal on Facebook and Youtube are posts that criticize Thailand’s monarchy. There are tons of people arrested every year in Thailand for criticizing the government under lèse-majesté charges since the military junta seized power in 2014. This is no surprise to us at TorGuard, since internet censorship is often used as a form of manipulation and propaganda.