Government, Google 'join forces' to block sites
Almost 100 web addresses on the popular video-sharing site YouTube have been blocked over the past four days for insulting the monarchy, the result of what the government is calling a "joint blocking effort" with Google.
Another 380 web addresses, or URLs, on the site, run by a subsidiary of Google, are in the process of being blocked, said a government official responsible for monitoring and blocking inappropriate content online.
The source said the government was also planning to invite representatives of Facebook this week to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in blocking users that post content or comments insulting the monarchy.
"Approximately 30-40 URLs with inappropriate content have been blocked per day since last week, compared with an average of two to 10 before we started working together," the source said.
Last Friday, Ann Lavin, director of public policy and government affairs at Google's Southeast Asia and Greater China office, met Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong to discuss the issue.
The source said Google had put in place steps making it easier for the government to complain about YouTube posts considered offensive to the monarchy. Google employees in the US consider the requests.
The effort includes a complaint report from the government available in Thai rather than only in English, as with previous versions. Google indicated it had Thai nationals to handle complaints around the clock.
The source said the government has to send URLs with inappropriate content to Google's office in the US for review. It must also seek court orders in Thailand.
The cooperation benefits the government because it shortens the process of blocking web addresses, the source said. It also helps avoid misunderstandings between the government and Google on what will be categorised as inappropriate content.
"The government needs strong assistance from Google to permanently remove all the web addresses showing inappropriate videos on YouTube," the source said.
Google spokesmen have insisted they have made no changes to their policies, which allow for site-blocking and YouTube video takedowns after considering government requests on a case-by-case basis.
The company on Wednesday evening clarified the above statement that "We have always had clear and consistent policies for removal requests from governments around the world. We have not changed those policies in Thailand.
We rely on governments around the world to notify us of content that they believe is illegal through official processes, and will restrict it as appropriate after a thorough review. All of these requests are tracked and included in our Transparency Report."
Earlier, ACM Prajin said the government was monitoring and tracking 100 people either posting or making comments with inappropriate content insulting the monarchy online.
The government also set up yet another "war room" to monitor and block inappropriate web addresses 24 hours a day by working with the two state-run Cyber Security Operation Centres.
ACM Prajin did not mention another new self-styled monitoring centre at the headquarters of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asked the public to refrain from quarrels and let the lese majeste law do its job.
Some netizens have turned angry after seeing online messages that allegedly defame the monarch. Others have criticised the censorship.
Gen Prayut advised people not to use emotions to judge what they see. If they find any act to be insulting, they should first look into the reasons behind it. If it turns out that the action was ill-intended, they should let officers deal with the issue, he said.
The Foreign Ministry will arrange extradition requests to other countries where suspects under Section 112 of the Criminal Code -- better known as the lese majeste law -- have fled, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said.
Following the Justice Ministry's recent move to send letters asking authorities in other countries to extradite suspects whose posts breached Section 112, Mr Don said the ministry will help get the letters to these authorities.
"We can ask for cooperation [from other countries]," he said.