Spirits of Censorship: Thailand’s ICT Ministry

Sombat Bun-ngam-anong, a webmaster of 19sep.net – an anti-coup website, told the story about censorship of the website to Thairath,Thai national newspaper. He said 19sep.net was set up one day after the coup. However, it was blocked by ISP, True Internet. He said someone turned off the server switch (Hmm, I personally wondered how did he know that).

He decided to move to host outside Thailand. After 2 hours of relocation, the domain was blocked without any notice. [Typically, there is a note that who took the blocking action.] No one was responsible for the actions. The ministry of ICT blaimed the ISP with the supporting argument that the ministry has not been closed any website (Does not it sound familiar?).

It sounds possible to me that there might be some secret lines directly to an ISP to act something, due to its urgency. In emergency, the efficiency of communication could be failed, in particular no evidence supported. It could include the low self efficacy of legal literacy (or the low literacy itself) of actors as well as the abuse of “magic power” (which could easily happen in everyday life, for instance, the recent UCLA police tasers student case).

One of True’s lawyer team interestingly responded that it was false. The ministry has actually order the closure [of websites]. However, there is no official lists or letters to the ISP, even though True has eagerd asking for them. (Presumably, they asked after the action s have been done.) When True got response from its users and forward the questions to the ICT minitry, the answer was it was just cooperation. Once True did so, that was it. Supasorn, the source from True, said the ministry actually realized that they do not have any power to do so.

True has been sued by its customer regarding the closure of swiming suit website which has been reported as pornography. The problem they currently have is that they could not have any official notes from the government. Since then, True has never blocked any websites.

This reminds me of Ishmael in The End of A Series of Unfortunate Events. His favorite phrase is “I’m not going to force you, but I don’t think …”. It is not a direct command, but a magic power?

Who should responsible for this? I do not understand why the government come out and say that they did it. It would make more sense to me if they just accept that they did it. If they are reasonable, I think people would understand. Leaving it as mistery does not help the communication and the relatioship with its people.

The website is now working (I hope it is accessible in Thailand too), although there is a discussion on whether the website should be closed or not.

[via Thairath]

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