Ministry denies blocking attempt in 3BB meltdown

Ministry denies blocking attempt in 3BB meltdown

Telecommunication authorities have dismissed rumours the inaccessibility to certain Google and Youtube services through an internet service provider on Saturday was their attempt to block content, saying it was merely a technical problem.

Somsak Khaosuwan, deputy permanent secretary and spokesman of the Digital Economy and Society Ministry, on Sunday said the inaccessibility was not the government's attempt to control political content on video-sharing website YouTube.

He referred to the very slow access or no access at all to Google-related websites -- from Google Search, YouTube and Google Drive to Play Store -- on Saturday by 3BB clients. Other websites can be accessed normally and other ISPs reportedly had no such problem.

The 14-hour outage triggered the rumours, especially since 3BB did not provide any explanation to the problem and customers could not reach its support call centre. Some users also reported they could access the websites through virtual private networks or VPNs, which mask a user's IP address and location.  

The lack of response and the fact that the websites could be accessed through VPNs fuelled speculation among social media users it might be a test of content-screening of some sort.     

But the Digital Economy and Society Ministry insisted on Sunday it had never violated people's rights by cooperating with Google to screen inappropriate content.

Mr Somsak said if something needs to be removed offline, the ministry would seek a court order and coordinate it with Google, which owned YouTube, through the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) or by itself, he said.

He said the technical problem was in fact a maintenance service to improve access to the popular video service.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith on Sunday tweeted the explanation on the incident by 3BB chief operating officer Yodchai Asawathongchai.

The ISP said in the statement the inaccessibility started at 9am on Saturday because an overseas team of Google conducted a repair and maintenance task.

"3BB was following up the issue closely with Google and the Google search service resumed for our clients at 12pm and YouTube at 11pm."

The ISP added it was waiting for more detailed explanations from Google.

Several Thai internet users have been suspicious of any glitches or anything out of the ordinary in their internet connections since authorities brought up the issue of the single gateway in 2014 in a bid to better control content even though the government said it had dropped it.  

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