A distinguished group of academics, journalists, publishers, business
owners and parents today formed the Freedom Against Censorship
Thailand (FACT) to file a formal petition before the Thai Human Rights
Commission asking for a complete ban on Internet censorship in
Since 2002 when Internet censorship was initiated by the Thai
government, more than 35,000 websites have been blocked. The Ministry
of Information and Communications Technology (MICT) blocks 2,500
websites; the Royal Thai Police, 32,500; and the Communications
Authority of Thailand (CAT) an unspecified further number.
There is no Thai law which permits such blocking, all of which is done
in secret. In fact, the 1997 Thai Constitution guarantees unfettered
access to all communication, as does the Thai Telecommunications Act.
MICT has funded a study from
faculty to determine how current laws can be used to enforce Internet
blocking in order to subvert and undermine the foundation of law
enshrined in the Thai Constitution.
The Thai Government conceals a hidden agenda by targeting pornographic
websites, the majority of those blocked. At least 11% of websites
blocked are critical of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his
Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party, government handling of the violence in
In addition to keeping this blocklist secret, Thai government agencies
also will not disclose their criteria for blocking websites or who, in
fact, is making these decisions. Nor will they define what is
considered "a threat to national security". This lack of public
transparency is in direct contravention of the Information of
Government Act 2540.
Since September 19, MICT is also blocking public discussions in which
comments and replies from the public are posted to moderated and
unmoderated webboards such as Prachatai, Pantip and Midnight
the Human Rights Commission and theAdministrative Court and was
granted an interim injunction to unblock their website pending the
Court's final determination.
MICT has also blocked anonymous proxy servers through which Thai
Internet users can access a blocked webpage. The Ministry has also
web pages in
as to block by keyword search. Both these methods are used as tools
used for political repression in
As of October 13, 2006, websites from BBC 1, BBC 2, CNN, Yahoo News,
University Press containing articles about His Majesty King Bhumibhol
and Thaksin are also being blocked by MICT.
The blocking of websites or, in fact, any government censorship of
freedom of expression, is most often used by an insecure government in
a feeble attempt at control of its citizens. Usually the censorship
is directed against views government deems unconventional or
unorthodox, if not an outright threat to power, as in
Suu Kyi said it best: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
There are an estimated more than two billion distinct websites,
including at least ten million pornographic sites. Is blocking
millions of sites A) within the Thai government's capabilities; B)
worth the huge expenditure necessary; or C) just a smokescreen for a
far more sinister political agenda?
Internet censorship impacts on academic research, business
competition, media freedom, and family education, among many other
fundamental rights and freedoms.
We estimate that at least 40% of Thai graduate students will be unable
to complete thorough, effective theses or dissertations due to blocked
websites. This means these Thai graduates will never be able to
compete with international graduates.
It should also be noted that we have a dearth of libraries available
the only source for research and information.
The Internet is presently the only forum in which all opinions are
equal, neutral and non-commercial. Should not any person judge the
validity of those opinions for themselves? We do not believe the
World Wide Web should be in any manner curtailed, censored or managed
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand is a partner in the Global
Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) and has received statements of
support from more than 70 international organisations including
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) whose website is blocked by
The world is watching. Internet censorship is improper, obscene and
illegal in a democratic Thailand.