Published: 4/02/2009 at 07:18 PM
Police and government censors now block more than 50,000 websites which supposedly feature pornography, southern Thailand terrorism or articles attacking the high institution, an anti-censorship group claimed on Wednesday.
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) saud it would offer help to anyone who wanted to install software to get around the government bans.
FACT "is pleased to provide links to two new, easy tools for private citizens to legally ignore Thailand's Internet censorship," said a notice on the group's bilingual Thai-English website at (facthai.wordpress.com)
Theblog also has links to other sites which contain censor-beating tips and software, and to a list of websites purporting to be the "secret blocklist" of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
According to the group, which has been compiling lists of banned sites for several years, the government has recently stepped up censorship efforts.
FACT claimed that the ICT ministry now blocks 17,775 websites, which, "along with blocking by the Royal Thai Police, resulted in more than 50,000 websites blocked in Thailand."
Police censorship, authorised when Thailand was under military rule from 2006 until last year, remains in effect even though the law permits authorities to block sites only with a court order.
ICT Minister Ranongruk Suwunchwee told the Bangkok Post last week that she also has ordered websites blocked without court authority, because getting a court order can take time.
The FACT website now offers links and instructions for anyone to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on their home or office computers. These security tools offer a "tunneling" method of Internet access directly to the United States, which effectively bypasses the Thai Internet service providers who block the sites under orders of the ICT.
"Governments believe they can censor free speech with impunity. VPN proves they cannot," said the group's blog post.
FACT said that the government plans its own national firewall at a cost of 100 million to 500 million baht - $2.9 to $14.6 million.
"Can any country afford such measures to censor free expression?" the group's blog asked.
"Would this money not be better spent on amazing Thailand’s amazing social crises, such as peace, justice and reconciliation in the South, or even Internet education?"
FACT also pointed out an opaque agreement between the government and Google where web surfers in Thailand are blocked by the American company from viewing certain websites, especially video clips which allegedly attack the high institution.
"There are now wholesale accusations of lese majeste in Thailand with each faction claiming to act for the protection of the monarchy," FACT said.
"Two webboard forum posters were arrested under the cybercrime law for their comments about the monarchy after being tracked by their IP address."
Thailand was also singled out on Tuesday in the annual report on world media freedom by the International Press Institute at the group's website (www.freemedia.at).
IPI cited Thailand first in its criticism of nations who used "censorship in the name of tradition, religion, culture and national reputation," which the group said was widespread around the world.
"In Thailand, laws protecting the reputation of the monarch prompted judicial proceedings and led to the shutdown of more than 2 000 websites," IPI claimed.
interesting indeed !
got to check the following links
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