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April 27, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Joint statement on the further censorship of websites and media under Emergency Decree


After the Thai government has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding provinces on April 7, 2010, the government has officially blocked 36 websites associated with, or sympathetic to, the red-shirt movement. In further development, Thai Rath daily newspaper in a report on April 16, 2010 cited an anonymous source, stated that 190 further URLs have been blocked (1). We object to such indiscriminate censorship of political content on the Internet for the following reasons. 1. Internet censorship constitutes direct abuse of people's rights to information and freedom of expression in a democratic society. 2. Internet censorship is a mistaken and ineffective way to deal with illegal content on the Internet. It cannot achieve the government's intended result, i.e. eradication of illegal content and arrest of content creator, and will also create an adverse effect. The inability of Internet users to access information will undoubtedly spur further mistrust and rumors, and deepen the already worsening rift in Thai society. 3. The current wave of Internet censorship has been done under the Emergency Decree, which grants the government a vast authority in censoring the media. Such vast authority and immunity under this law make the government unaccountable to the public, thereby giving the government even more incentive to censor indiscriminately. 4. Given the fact that the government is intensively using state-owned media, including the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT) and a website factreport.go.th to disseminate its own interpretation of events, it is even more important for people to be able to access alternative media and verify facts for themselves. We see the Internet as the most powerful platform for fostering equal access to the information. The government's control of mass media and impunity granted by the Emergency Decree make it even more important for people to be able to access and share information on the Internet. For the above reasons, we urge the government to cease all Internet censorship immediately. By carrying on censorship under the Emergency Decree and not under the libel law or the Computer Crime Act, the government is guilty of violating Thai constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also invite Thai Internet users to make use of censorship circumvention tools and techniques, described on our site at http://thainetizen.org/unblock It is time for the Thai government to recognize the nature of the Internet and its central role in fostering public discourses and exchange of information in a free and democratic society. Thai Netizen Network and Reporters Without Borders (1) http://www.thairath.co.th/content/tech/77134