Thailand blocks 5,000 anti-monarch Web pages

Between December and March, Thai authorities have taken down thousands of Web pages violating country's lese majeste laws and number of such posts has been decreasing, says report.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Over the last three months, the Thai government has taken down more than 5,000 Web pages with content that offend the monarchy, says report. Watchdog warns that Thailand may soon be among the world’s most repressive countries with regards to Internet rules.

An AFP report Thursday quoted Thailand's national police spokesperson Piya Utayo as saying that thousands of Web pages which were considered critical of the royal family were taken down between December and March.

He added that the number of "inappropriate or insulting posts was less and less" but did not elaborate why it has decreased, said the report.

AFP noted that under Thailand's strict lese majeste law, insulting the monarchy or a member of the royal family can result in jail terms of up to 15 years. The country's computer crime laws also note that acts of defamation and posting false rumours online are punishable by five years in jail.

The lese majeste law extends beyond posting content on the Internet. Last year, Thailand's Computer Crime Act, Information and Communication Technology minister warned citizens that even clicking on Facebook "Like" button or sharing content that offends the monarch is illegal.

In January, the country endorsed Twitter's censorship policy to block tweets in certain countries to comply with local laws.

In a Monday report, civil liberties group Reporters Without Borders said the new Thai administration had boasted that more online content had been blocked in the past few months than in the previous three years. The country was listed among the those "under surveillance" for restricting freedom of expression online.

Reporters Without Borders warned that if Thailand "continues down the slope of content filtering and jailing netizens on lèse-majesté charges, it could soon join the club of the world’s most repressive countries" in terms of Internet regulation.

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