Monday, April 13, 2009

Chiranuch Premchaiyaporn

Recently, Chiranuch Premchaiyaporn, editor of the online newspaper Prachatai, gave a speech at the Thai Netizen Networks first meeting. She compare the freedom that Thai citizens have online to "animals in a cage."

She explained that while the animals have the freedom to do whatever they want in that cage, they only have the illusion of freedom because any attempt to step out of the cage is thwarted.

After her recent arrest in regards to the content on her site, she was asked to take down some of the content. Surprisingly, she has chosen not to do so. Her fear is that web content is getting more fearful, making bloggers subconsciously censor their own content. She hopes that online content will continue with its strength in opinions as well as relative anonymity.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Rules for Foreigners

Prachatai is now reporting that foreigners in Thailand must now get public permission in order to post anything online while they are in Thailand. This includes contributing to a blog. The Ministry of Culture now has permission forms for foreigners to get signed for permission.

If you think this is a pain, it gets even worse for foreigners who want to host a website in Thailand.

The ministry is claiming that this is not being done to censor the media. They say it is being done in order to prevent negative press affecting tourism or the country's image. Just my opinion, but news like this looks much worse than some tourist saying they had crappy food in Bangkok.

There is issue over whether or not this new law is an elaborate hoax, but while some are denying it, others are confirming it, so there's no real way of knowing if this rumor is true or not. Now, whether they were originally intending for this law to go through or not, there is in fact a form created for people to fill out to post online. Whether or not it is really necessary, we honestly don't know for sure.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Photograph Emailed Puts Man in Prison

Apparently, if you send photos of the wrong person, you can actually be put in jail. According to Prachatai, there is currently a petition going around for the royal pardon of Suwicha Thakor, a man who emailed altered photos of King King Bhumipol Adulyadej. This could put in prison for ten years.

The content of these photos was deemed insulting to the monarchy. This news is only further damaging Thailands reputation as a country without press freedom and unreasonable restrictions.

As Reporters Without Borders States, “The charge of lese majeste has become a major tool of repression in Thailand.” Reporters Without Borders began this petition and urges many people to sign it. If you are interested, click here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Journalists Arrested on Trumped Up Charges

As of April 2, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology is said to have blocked over 7,000 web sites. These sites reportedly contained morally offensive content.

According to Prachatai, they are now currently investigating the pornographic animation clip ‘Ninja Love’ and hope to find the poster for prosecution.

The MICT now has created a hotline call service where people can report these offensive sites anonymously. The public can now feel even more free to give up information about these sites.

The hotline will also forward their information to the monarchy in order to further prevent this content from impacting the Thai citizens.

These new occurrences are right on par with other actions that the MICT has executed.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

They're Not Anti-Technology, They're Anti-Free Thought

On March 5, three men were sentenced to ten years of imprisonment for allegedly sending news of the protests in Burma in 2007 over the internet. I find it interesting that had they not used a computer to send this message, they may not have been caught. According to an article at Prachatai, the police had no evidence, but frankly, they didn’t need it. The decision was made before trial had even begun. Reports of the trial weren’t even released in Thailand.

Despite these reports of cyber related crimes, the article discusses that this use of technology is not what the Thailand monarchy is against. They are against the independent thoughts that might turn against their leaders. They are still a fairly technologically savvy country, but this use of technology to spread the independent thoughts of some activists in Thailand scares them. I just thought this was interesting because I had never thought about it before. The power of the internet scares them, but hopefully this won’t be enough to limit their access to free speech even further.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Update on Website Ban

According to the Bangkok Post, Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) now claims that the Thai police and government now blocks more than 50,000 websites due to their content.

The content is thought to include pornography, southern Thailand terrorism and anti-monarchy literature.

FACT is trying to change this. They are offering to help anyone who would like access to these sites by helping them install software that can get around these bans. This blog apparently has been compiling lists of banned sites for years now.

Another interesting fact this article revealed is that originally, the law only permits sites being blocked with a court order. Minister Ranongruk Suwunchwee recently ordered that these sites can now be blocked without court authority because getting a court order can take too much time.

Here is a link to FACT, an interesting blog that proactively fights censorship in Thailand.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fear Among the People

An article on discusses the climate of fear that is being established in Thailand as a result of these censorship laws. After the arrest of one of their editors, prachatai now has to cooperate with government officials on their content and further investigation of their site.

The monitoring of these sites is only getting worse. Now internet cafes are require by law to have users type in their ID information before using a computer. As of now more than 2300 websites have been blocked, and there will most certainly be more.

These new occurrences are causing an increasing amount of fear among citizens and journalists of Thailand, as well as other countries who have become involved. A new concern is that these practices are pushing anti-monarchy forces underground, only making citizens further vulnerable to attacks by the monarchy. Some believe that this will result in an even more anonymous way of distributing their news, such as by pamphlets they could toss out into the streets. Though this would get the word out, it would not solve all of their problems with censorship.

One of the main problems with this law against anti-monarchy comments is that it is too difficult to decipher between remarks that are constructive and those that are offensive. Their solution is to punish all who speak of the monarchy, when the best solution would probably be to punish no one. This would help to alleviate some of the anger of the people as well as keep the innocent free.