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Political blogging experts and social media activists in Thailand face frustration against their lack of liberty to express themselves at will. Thailand´s government uses two ways to censor and control the net. Firstly, by setting up an online roadblock –which already has stopped 32,500 pages- and secondly, through a government body that monitors the websites.
The increase of internet usage across the country has caused some concerns between political leaders. Thailand focuses their internet censorship energies on social issues, especially those related to online pornography, political separatists, and gambling. But their priorities are those cyber opinions that threaten the regime’s stability.
The Thailand government has invested millions of dollars for an internet gateway that will prevent any harsh comments on the country’s supreme monarch. The same system crosses out sites owned by terrorists. The Thailand Ministry of Information and Communication Technology works closely with the companies that provide internet in the country. If the companies do not block websites which have been asked to by the government body, these businesses could lose their licenses or have their networking area limited.
Local internet providers, fearing sanctions, follow the Thai internet censorship. In more than four years, the country’s communication ministry has blocked about 15,000 websites. Today, the number of websites blocked is unknown and the reasons remain hidden to the public. This year, the Thailand government has officially endorsed Twitter’s ‘country-by-country’ censorship policy. Twitter’s new policy allows for restrictions of ‘certain types of content’ for various ‘cultural reasons.’
By reading some scholarly articles and journals, I found that Thailand is one of the most engaged countries in the world to practice internet filtering. Thailand is also listed as “Not Free” by Freedom on the Net 2011 report by Freedom house which works on censorship and freedom on the internet (read report here). Moreover, Thailand is listed in Internet Enemies Under Surveillance by Reporters Without Borders as of March 2011 (read report here). By restricting the freedom to use the net, the Thai government is converting political, social and religious subjects into a taboo.
The future of global internet freedom looks dark in spite of the growth of Thai net users. Private companies respond with more innovation to cyber security instead of promoting news ways to implement a democracy,due to fear.
Future Thai generations will see their political and social knowledge being dwindled, in spite of the new ways that modern technologies offer citizens to build a democracy. Despite the Thai government’s wish to control Thai residents’ online activities, the internet is too vital in this new era, where foreign companies look at these kind of issues in order to decide whether to invest in a country or not.