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THAI COUP: Junta seeks to block social-media access to 'inappropriate content'

Publication Date : 30-05-2014

 

The junta's online content monitoring panel will seek cooperation from social-network operators to block accessibility in Thailand to Facebook pages, Line groups and YouTube videos that have inappropriate content, especially those deemed as violating lese majeste restrictions and national security.

The resolution came after a meeting yesterday of the committee to monitor and regulate Internet and social-network use set up by the Information and Communications Technology Ministry on Tuesday under a National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) command.

Committee member Pol Maj General Pisit Pao-in said that in the next two days the ICT Ministry would send representatives to meet executives of Facebook and Google in Singapore and Line in Japan to seek cooperation in blocking access for Thai people to inappropriate content over these platforms. The ministry will also ask them not to allow the opening of pages with "inappropriate" content.

The move is aimed at curbing content that violates the NCPO's 12th, 17th, and 18th announcements, which ordered online operators to suspend messages deemed as insulting the monarcy, provocative, inciting violence or critical of the military leaders, causing misunderstanding among the public or disturbing peace and order.

According to the announcements, operators of social media and Internet service providers (ISPs) have been urged to block the spreading of false information and messages that incite unrest or opposition to what the junta calls peacekeeping efforts.

"Currently, more than 200 online contents, including Facebook pages and website pages, have been closed because they violated the NCPO's orders. We blocked them under the authority given to us by the NCPO's 26th order," Pisit said. He added that the committee monitored only public areas over the social network and kept a close watch on specific suspect accounts. They insisted that they were not against people's online privacy.

There are three working panels under the committee to enforce three tasks: for directing, for information verification and analysis, and for investigation and suppression.

The inability to access Facebook on Wednesday afternoon had nothing to do with the ICT Ministry's orders, Pasit said. Thais were unable access Facebook because of technical problems somewhere on the connection route between the international Internet gateway and the social network's server, he said.

"It was the misunderstanding of ISPs that they thought Facebook was down because of an order, hence they posted a banner saying, 'This Web page cannot be accessed because of the NCPO's command.' We did not block Facebook," Pisit insisted.

Facebook users were furious when they were briefly unable to access the social medium on Wednesday. The NCPO responded quickly by saying it had no policy to block social media and ordered the ICT Ministry to fix the problem at the gateway.

Yanapol Yungyuen, a member of the committee, said the panel worked under the NCPO's command to keep peace in the country without intention to harm people's online life and privacy. He also urged people not to put unverified content online and or on social networks, especially Line's group messages and Facebook.

The committee held its first meeting on Tuesday after being set up by the coup commanders. Pisit said the committee had invited ISPs as well as Facebook and Line representatives to seek their cooperation. However, Line and Facebook did not send representatives to the meeting.

 

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