1,203 new websites censored by Thailand – Wikileaks: “1,203 new websites censored by Thailand”
December 21, 2008
WIKILEAKS PRESS RELEASE (Wikileaks)
Wikileaks has released the secret internet censorship lists of Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT). The list was obtained by advisory board member CJ Hinke, director of Freedom Against Censorship Thailand.
The 1,203 newly blocked websites are located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Vietnam.
Every blocked site has the internally noted reason of “lese majeste” — criticizing the King — however, it is obvious that many sites were blocked for quite different reasons. It would appear, in fact, that the judiciary did not examine most sites before issuing orders but instead rubber-stamped government requests.
A total of 860 YouTube videos have been blocked, far in excess of the blocking conducted by The Official Censor of the Military Coup; a further 200 pages mirroring those videos are also blocked. Curiously, Hillary Clinton’s campaign videos, and 24 Charlie Chaplin videos are also on the censorship lists.
Although we have not yet found the opportunity to examine each website censored, an eclectic mix of censorship has been revealed resulting in overblocking of many benign webpages.
Along with the obligatory YouTube videos and their mirror sites alleged to be lese majeste in Thailand, numerous blocks to Thai webboard pages, particularly at popular discussion sites including Prachatai (45 separate pages) and Same Sky (56 separate pages). Of course, all webboards in Thailand, including those just mentioned, moderate discussions and self-censor to avoid closure. It is interesting that Thai bureaucrats still find reasons to censor.
Also blocked are weblogs referencing Paul Handley’s unauthorised Biography of Thailand’s King Bhumibhol, The King Never Smiles, and its translation into Thai along with Thai Wikipedia entries.
The webpages of respected Thai Buddhist social critic, Sulak Sivaraksa who is currently on bail for his fourth accusation of lese majeste, and Matthew Hunt, respected Thai journalist, anticensorship activist and FACT signer, are also blocked as are pages of the respected international newsmagazine, The Economist.
Typically, web censorship in Thailand is conducted in secret. We think there is a right to know inherent in a free society. We call for transparency and accountability in government and freedom of expression, freedom of communication and freedom of association as fundamental human rights.
On December 21, a new ICT minister was appointed to Cabinet, Ranongruk Suwanchawee. She must be held accountable for censorship.