Thailand: Is a lese majeste crackdown around the corner? UPDATE: ICT asks FB to block thousands of sites
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Thailand: Is a lese majeste crackdown around the corner? UPDATE: ICT asks FB to block thousands of sites

UPDATE: Sunai of Human Rights Watch tweets

Anudith said ICT Ministry told Facebook to block more accounts with LM contents: 26,000 URL in Aug-Sept and 60,000 URL in Oct-[Nov].

BP: Is requesting blocking of more sites better? Is this just blocking for Thailand (i.e if your IP address shows you are from Thailand, you can’t view the page)  like with YouTube?  Wonder how many requests that FB has complied with….

btw, slightly corrected Sunai’s tweet to change to Nov as there appears to be an error in his English language tweet whereas his Thai language tweet makes it clear it is Nov.

The Bangkok Post reported on Wednesday:

He said the anti-monarchy movement was still active with websites with lese majeste content prevalent on the internet.

Mr Sondhi said the PAD is gathering evidence to prove the government is insincere in protecting the monarchy.

He said the alliance will submit a petition asking the government to take action against anti-monarchy elements.

If the government fails to act within 14 days, the PAD will stage a mass rally against it, Mr Sondhi said.

Then, also on Wednesday, the Democrats held a press conference, led by Deputy Spokesperson Mallika Boonmeetrakool* and shadow ICT Minister and Democrat MP Sirichoke Sopha as reported by Krungthep Turakit which BP has summarized below:

Mallika spoke about lese majeste websites on social media websites and stated that as a former advisor to the ICT Minister that has been following this idea for 3 months and she is found that there are more than 4oo video clips on YouTube or other websites. She stated that under the Democrats that the ICT Minister coordinated with the Courts and the justice system and received good cooperation and the court acted immediately, but with the new government the ICT Minister is doing nothing including not to court. Even one of the people that we arrested, whose name is Nattawut D or whose online name is Mahabord Kahng Sai, who is one of the main posters of the anti-monarchy movement and is part of the red shirt movement and signed an agreement to cease his action, but then continued in the movement.

Mallika then showed photos of Nattawut D when he was arrested and photos of a person standing next to the ICT Minister and stated was it the same person? [see here for photos]. It is understood that Nattawut is now an advisor to the ICT Minister as part of the working group of the Minister. She further stated that she has spoken to senior people in the party on whether to work with the ICT Ministry, but as the Ministry cannot be relied on and fails to act to block lese majeste websites, it was decided to set up a group of people who love the monarchy under the name “cyber warriors” who when they have time will look for lese majeste websites and clips as well as those against national security, drugs, gambling etc. These URLs will be collected and sent to the ICT Minister. If the Minister won’t take action e-mails should be sent go

She also warned Thais who receive such links or clips not to click on “like” as hackers will be able to access your personal information and photos and then set up a new account and post using your photo.  และขอเตือนประชาชนว่าหากได้รับลิ้งค์ หรือคลิปผ่านเฟสบุ๊คส่วนตัวอย่ากดแสดงความเห็

Sirichoke stated that Yingluck is the head of the organizing committee for celebrations on December 5 for HM the King. He stated that if the government  is afraid to take action “against its own” (ไม่กล้าดำเนินการกับพรรคพวกเดียวกัน) as it is known that some of them are red shirts that such thoughts were a danger to the institution.

BP: Mallika also tweeted that if no action is taken against the 200 URLs sent to the Minster, she will get the Democrat lawyers to file a criminal complaint of malfeasance under Section 157 of the Criminal Code (ถ้า200 URLที่กำลังส่งให้รมว.ไอซีที ไม่มีปิดไม่จับไม่เป็นผล ดิฉันจะให้ทนายพรรคปชป.ช่วยดำเนินคดีอาญารมต.มาตรา157ละเว้นการปฎิบัติหน้าที่).

This press conference was, of course, around the same time that Uncle SMS was being sentenced to 20 years in jail…..

Then, today the ICT Minister as per the Bangkok Post:

Local Facebook users risk violating the computer law unknowingly by pressing the “like” or “share” button included with posted comment on anti-monarchy messages on the most popular social networking site, Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap said on Thursday.

Anyone doing so could be arrested on charges of violating the Computer Crime Act and committing lese majeste because the law prohibits the dissemination of content deemed insulting to the monarchy, he said.

Facebook users should not press the “like”  button or post comments on lese majeste-related content.

They would then become involved with the group’s network. This may  allow  anarchists to use their personal information to create a fake Facebook account to support their cause.

Mr Anudith urged the users to press the “delete” button if they receive  messages defamatory to the revered institution, to avoid breaking the law.

”Any user not deleting it may risk beiing prosecuted under the Computer Crime Act, because they will be seen as having a role in indirectly disseminating an unlawful message,” he said.

BP: Is clicking on like “dissemination”? He has really taken on board the Democrat press conference as he is repeating their warning. Prachatai has more:

On 23 Nov, Grp Cpt Anudith Nakornthap, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said that the Ministry had asked Facebook headquarters to delete over 10,000 URLs or pages which contained pictures and messages offensive to the monarchy.

The contents were posted from abroad, and that made it difficult for the Ministry to close them, he said.

He asked anybody who found such contents not to press ‘Like’ or make comments because that would be indirect dissemination. He admitted that offensive content had been rapidly spread in the past 2-3 days. To help disseminate this is an offence under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, he said.

Peerapol Anuttarasote, a reporter for the Thai News Agency, tweeted through @yoware that during the last three months the MICT had contacted Facebook to eliminate 50 accounts.

Although Facebook has a rule not to reveal posters’ IP addresses, it has yielded to requests to delete inappropriate content and has done so more quickly than before, the reporter said, adding that the MICT insists that it can track down the posters.

BP: Facebook has deleted or blocked the sites? The suggestion from the page is that they are deemed “hate sites” – other groups have tried this without success.

The ICT Minister had previously promised to more stringent on lese majeste websites. It is hard to assess whether he has or he has not. The Democrats say “no” and well he likely says “yes”, but then they will both say that. We have had one person arrested – see post about arrest here – since this new government took office (anyone aware of any other arrests since this government took office???), but is this just the tip of the iceberg or a one-off? BP thinks there are certainly elements within the government who won’t be unhappy at the new powers and what this means for going after political opponents. So far we have mixed messages with talk of crackdown with sites being blocked vs review of lese majeste cases, but there is also no sign of any change from this government from the first year of the last government where we also had talk of a panel to look into lese majeste cases which from the rise in cases may have helped in a few cases, but still was not effective.

So will the government follow through with the PAD and Democrat party request? Will the PAD be able to follow through on their threat of a mass rally? Will it be just blocking websites or will people be arrested as well? If the latter, what will this mean for the review of all lese majeste cases promised in late September?

*Thai politics makes for strange bedfellows, IFEX from 2000:

According to information collected by RSF, Malika Boonmeetrakul, a journalist, and two cameramen from the private television network ITV, were attacked on 20 November 2000 by supporters of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai’s Democratic Party during an electoral meeting. After the attack, a Democratic Party leader stated that certain press professionals “are paid by political parties,” so their articles are subjective.

h/t to a reader