Thailand aims to build its own Great Firewall of Internet censorship
In recent years Thailand hasn’t shied away from banning websites that slander its leaders or display explicit pornography, but its Internet hasn’t been systemically censored like China’s. That all may be set to change though, as the country’s military government is reportedly laying the political groundwork to dramatically restructure Thailand’s Internet, according to an official government release.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet instructed the National Police Department, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Information and Communication to set up a single gateway Internet, the release confirms. Gateways are used to connect one communication system to another. If these changes go ahead uncontested, the government will essentially be able to closely monitor and control all online information that comes into Thailand from other countries.
Additionally, earlier this month the cabinet demanded the aforementioned agencies list any laws that would need to be amended prior to setting up the single gateway web, Telecom Asia reports. The original proposal was made back in June.
The political movements were unearthed by a Twitter user, who discovered them while looking through the government’s official cabinet resolutions.
Thai cabinet wants MICT to create a single gateway for Thailand to block access to sites and control information flow http://t.co/KQ2XCESD9c
— Prem Sichanugrist (@sikachu) September 22, 2015
In 2014 US research group Freedom House ranked Thailand as the country with the 52nd least-free Internet out of 65, narrowly finishing above countries like Pakistan, Iran and China — whose government’s censorship measures are infamously referred to as the Great Firewall of China, in reference to the country’s Great Wall.
Thai officials have historically concentrated censorship efforts on pornographic content, but in 2006 the Royal Thai Army overthrew the government, leading to an Internet that has become increasingly censored. Since 2006, censorship in the country has grown to encompass any content that slanders or besmirches the government or the Royal Family. For instance, UK tabloid news site the Mail Online was famously banned last year for a story it published about Thailand’s Royal Family.