Thailand backs down on threats to block Facebook

Facebook has complied with the Thai government's demands to remove 131 URLs that allegedly violated the country's anti-monarchy laws.
Written by Jonathan Chadwick, Contributor

Thailand has backed down on threats it made last week to block Facebook in the country, having previously threatened to issue court orders if the social media giant did not remove content the government deems illegal.

Takorn Tantasith, secretary general of Thailand's broadcast regulator, said Facebook would not be blocked due to its compliance with demands to remove content it deemed a threat to national security or a violation of its lese majeste law, which makes insults to the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Facebook has now complied with the demands, according to Takorn, and the site will not be blocked.

"There were 131 URLs still pending and Facebook has cooperated with us very well," Takorn said, as quoted by ABC News.

The Thai government threatened Facebook on Friday that it would take action unless it removed the 131 pages, some of which were in violation of the lese majeste law.

One such post, which featured Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in a Munich shopping centre wearing fake tattoos and a crop top, according to The Telegraph, was widely shared on the social media site and led to Thai officials' threats to press charges if wasn't taken down by Tuesday.

"The Thai state has been so desperate to stop a certain kind of information on social media," said Thai academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who lives in exile in Japan since being accused of criticising the Thai monarchy.

Chachavalpongpun was among figures banned from being contacted via Facebook by the Thai Ministry of Digital Economy and Society last month, part of Thai military efforts to "erase" him from the internet, he wrote for the Washington Post.

"The military government in Thailand has a well-established gift for Orwellian absurdity ... Thais have been arrested for allegedly making disrespectful remarks about the king's dog."

France sanctions Facebook for data breach

Several of Facebook's failures to comply with the French Data Protection Act have been revealed by France's National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) this week. As a result, the Restricted Committee of the CNIL has imposed a sanction of €150,000 against the social media giant.

Investigations by CNIL revealed that among six infringements by Facebook, the social media site compiled a mass of users' personal data to display targeted advertising and collected data on browsing activity on third-part websites using the "datr" cookie without prior knowledge.

Following Facebook's "unsatisfactory responses" to a formal notice last year, the chair of the CNIL decided refer the matter to the CNIL's Restricted Committee with the aim of bringing forward the sanction.

The action was part of a collaborative approach by the data protection authorities of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and Hamburg to carry out investigations on Facebook.

With AAP

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