Tuesday, 25 July, 2017

Thailand backs off threat to block Facebook over content

Under strict lese-majeste laws in Thailand people can be jailed for up to 15 years for sharing material which is insulting to the monarchy Under strict lese-majeste laws in Thailand people can be jailed for up to 15 years for sharing material which is insulting to the monarchy
Howard Terry | 17 May, 2017, 12:07

The ruling military junta last week said it would ban the USA social network if it did not disable Thailand-based users from being able to access a selection of 131 "illicit" posts, including content that violates lese majeste laws that prevent criticism of the royal family.

About 105 people have been arrested under the lese-majeste charges after the 2014 coup, 49 of whom have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, and another 64 are in custody awaiting trial.

It's uncertain what legal action the Thai government planned to take against Facebook, nor whether the social network managed to delete the offending videos prior to the deadline they were given.

Thailand is one of the world's most enthusiastic users of Facebook and many commentators agree shutting it down would invite a huge backlash from the public.

The firm had said it scrutinises requests from governments to restrict content considered illegal.

"When we receive such a request, it is scrutinised to determine if the specified content does indeed violate local laws". Facebook was still accessible in Thailand an hour after Tuesday's deadline.

After an ultimatum had passed Tuesday for Facebook to act on censorship demands, telecommunication regulators admitted that necessary court orders hadn't actually been obtained before threatening the social media giant with criminal action last week.

Furious top brass in the South East Asian nation reportedly want the clip taken offline and the Bangkok Post is reporting the entire country could lose its access to Facebook as early as Tuesday morning (local time) if this isn't removed.

Last week the Thai Internet Service Provider Association emailed Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg calling for the posts to be blocked, the Bangkok Post reports.

"Facebook is now geoblocking some posts by me, Ajarn Somsak Jeamteerasakul and others", he wrote on Facebook.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn was filmed strolling around a German mall a year ago - but the country's courts don't want its citizens to see that.

Last month, Thai authorities declared it illegal to exchange information on the internet with three prominent government critics who often write about the country's monarchy.

She said Facebook's continued operation in the country did not surprise her. Vice reported that the footage in question is blocked because the Thailand's government determined the footage violates their county's laws, which bars any criticism of the monarchy.

Most social media monitoring companies predict the number of users in Thailand has grown significantly since then.

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