There are tons of example of conflicts of interest on censorship from global perspective. The battle between Youtube and Thai government on lese majeste is one of those cases. When the issue of lese majeste, originally rooted locally, is no longer be domestic anymore, the fuzziness is about where is the standing point of the government toward this issue and how to deal with it in order to keep their points valid, and how much tolerance they do have.
We all have learned that the ICT ministry have blocked thousands of websites [See also FACT for reference]. (Un?)fortunately, Thai government has none tolerance toward this matter. It is just because of the intuition, apparently not the “universal” rationale. The ICT minister told the press that it’s “my” culture, not cultural difference.
This may be the time for someone to come out heroically as a guard of the monarchy and a righteous guy to censor the Internet. The second claim is something to keep an eye on. How about the first claim? Do you think it is always the case?
In general, even by Youtube itself, the effectiveness of censorship is not 100% guaranteed. We still can watch all kinds of videos that violates Youtube’s policy. (e.g. I still can watch American Idols performance somewhere on Youtube. No doubt that I don’t mind missing the show during on-air time.) When the first copy is taken out, the second one shows up immediately. Also, Youtube is not the only source for user-created videos. To block the whole site, it is not different from blocking on a particular video/URL in terms of effectiveness, unless you block the Internet.
According to the discussion in Rajdumnern room on Pantip.com (Apparently this room, including this particular topic, has just also been closed due to security reasons, as the provider was asked by ICT ministry. However, this is not the case to stop the crowd! I’m sure they are still seeking where else to go. It is not that hard and Yes! this is not the first time.), at first the ICT ministry blocked the URL of this particular video. However, people still forwarded the link to video via channel/account URLs which worry the government that it will be never ending story. ICT apparently took Youtube to take partial responsibility and call of intention by blocking the whole site for negotiation. That was the beginning of the talk (er.. fight?).
Personally, I have to admit that the (original) video was very very offensive to me as a Thai citizen. I too wanted to take this one down as many other Thais who already watched the video. However, I didn’t know what to do except flagging it as inappropriate with highly hope that others would do the same thing, besides outrageous comments. Also I thought about sending a message to Youtube directly, and I’m pretty sure that many have done so. I thought the power of the crowd is a better tool than the government to solve the problem.
Apparently this particular person who post the “first” flammable video
did have done this sort of activities for quite a while. It seems like s/he (or they) is not going to stop. By searching Google from his/her (their) name pseudonym, I found a couple of trails that this person has made in various forms. Not only the material itself, the way to trick searchers’ attentions on Google was somewhat thoughtful. Anyway, if it is only one person, it should not be that hard to deal with.
However, when I heard that the government blocked the whole site, I was not surprised, should I? When the news was distributed with somewhat emotional messages from the trusted source (you know who that might be?), it awakened the world [See also comments in Slashdot]. Now you see more insulting videos by two groups of people: those who have bad intentions to the monarchy/Thais/Thailand and those who could not tolerate free speech broken. The
new emerging group seemingly just wants to challenge Thai government by using monarchy which evidentially indicates that the monarchy becomes the weakest link from global democratic perspective, although it is the strongest link from inside. The dissemination of sensitive information to the world is so critical. Perhaps the qualilfication of the next ICT minister is not only being tech-savvy, but also being international diplomat.
However, I am also disappointed by the first Google’s Youtube response to reject the request as well. It is empirical to me that the crowd is not a deal with Youtube in this case. By flagging as inappropriate, Youtube could not heard us (well not surprisingly). But may be they need to learn more about how to deal with this kind of conflicts. They have experienced a number of serious cases already, for example, how to do business with Chinese government, Danish cartoon and Islamic world controversy. For sure, being an intermediary
is has to be very responsible. That’s what librarians, journalists, and other professions with the same kind of intermediary business have already learned and concerned about as well.
Alright kids, here is your homework for this week.
“If you were
ana Thai ICT minister, what would you do to solve this problem?”
Last note: I hope people don’t get bored with the news about censorship (not only with Youtube) and take it as another daily news.
Update: [See also Negotiating the Global and local]