Asia Sentinel published an article on internet censorship in Thailand a couple of days ago. It reveals that the current Thai government has blocked at least 113,000 websites, apparently because they are a threat to national security.
The MICT (Ministry of Information and Communication Technology) and the CRES (Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations) admitted blocking
- 48,000 websites in May this year,
- 50,000 in June and July and
- adding 500 more per day.
The FACT (Freedom against Censorship Thailand) group has concluded their own research and found that at least 15,000 other websites are blocked by ISP (Internet Service Providers) too.
In most cases, the lèse-majesté law is used to justify the censorship.
Human rights groups have voiced their concerns about the arbitrary use of lèse-majesté. They say they believe the law has been employed as the government’s weapon to silence the opposition. So far, it has effectively built up a climate of fear under which those who possess dissenting views now resort to practicing self-censorship as they express their political opinions.
The murky investigation/prosecution process has also added up to the intensity of fear. Nobody really knows about how many sets of blacklists the Thai authorities have been making. Who is indeed responsible for cases involving the violation of lèse-majesté law? The police? The DSI? The MICT? The Foreign Ministry (for the crime committed outside Thailand)? Or the Immigration Office?
The punishment is also getting harsher since the state authorities have defined the threat to monarchy so closely with the concept of national security.
The article also mentions that Noam Chomsky – among others – has petitioned prime minister Abhisit to reform the law, in order to prevent abuse.