Thailand welcomes Twitter censorship

2012-01-30 09:03
Bangkok - The Thai government welcomed the move by the US-based micro-blogging website Twitter to allow country-specific censorship, which a human rights group labelled "shocking".

Jeerawan Boonperm, permanent secretary of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry, said the announcement last week to block content deemed offensive in particular countries was "a welcome development", the Bangkok Post reported on Monday.

The Twitter move came at a time of growing internet censorship in Thailand, especially of posts deemed critical of the monarchy, which violate the country's strict lèse-majesté law.

The ministry has blocked thousands of websites in recent years that carry pornography, promote online gambling or are deemed denigrating to the monarchy.

"It's very shocking and disappointing that Twitter is now caving in to a policy of adopting self-censorship in order to have a presence in a repressive society," said Sunai Pasuk, a representative for Human Rights Watch Thailand.

"This is not going to do any good for the current situation in Thailand where freedom of expression has been attacked so severely," he said.

Under the lèse-majesté law, it is illegal to defame the king, queen, heir apparent or regent, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Prosecutions have skyrocketed over the past six years.

The communications ministry has already received co-operation from Google and Facebook in blocking content, and at least one person has been arrested for lèse-majesté for content posted on Facebook, Human Rights Watch said.

A system to screen Twitter messages before they are posted would need to be put in place, similar to Facebook.

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