Thailand endorses Twitter's censorship policy

Thailand backs Twitter's latest move to selectively censor tweets in some countries, as part of efforts to ensure tweets comply with local laws, report states.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Thailand has endorsed Twitter's new censorship policy to block tweets in accordance to a particular country's laws, calling it a "welcome development".

Thailand's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry said it will work with Twitter to ensure tweets disseminated in the country are in compliance with local laws, the Bangkok Post reported Monday.

ICT permanent secretary Jeerawan Boonperm said in the report that Twitter's move to censor content deemed offensive in particular countries was a "welcome development". She added that the ministry would soon contact the U.S.-based microblogging platform to discuss ways in which they could collaborate.

The Thai ministry already receives "good cooperation" from companies such as Google and Facebook in ensuring that Thai laws are respected, she noted.

Last week, Twitter announced a marked change in its censorship policy in which it would block tweets, if and when required, in specific countries so that the U.S. company meets the "contours of freedom of expression" in foreign countries as it expands internationally.

The Bangkok Post noted that the ICT ministry had "blocked thousands of Web sites" in recent years mainly for breaching pornography laws or the lese majeste law. The news daily added that with Twitter's policy change, tweets from Thai users could be blocked in the country at the request of a government, company or individual.

So far, user reactions to the news have been of dismay. According to the Bangkok Post, Twitter user Sombat Boonngamanong told the paper that content censorship was appropriate for human rights violations or criminal activity, but not for expressing political views. "It's a dangerous and sensitive issue to censor political views," he said.

Paiboon Amonpinyokeat, a computer law expert, added that while censorship of tweets might help ease legal disputes, it could come at the expense of online freedom of speech.

But others were in favor of the policy change. Chavarong Limpattamapanee, president of the Thai Journalists Association, said: "Local users must still comply with local law. Freedom of speech is a human right, but this freedom is not borderless. One must be responsible."

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