Internet freedom declines further in Thailand

Internet freedom declines further in Thailand

Online porn crackdown a major factor but censorship also on the rise, says Comparitech

Thailand has moved into the third-lowest tier in the world for internet freedom, down two steps from the year before, according to Comparitech, a website that focuses on improving cybersecurity and privacy online.

Internet freedoms in Thailand are “73% restricted”, it said, placing the country among a small group — along with Belarus, Qatar, Syria, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates — assigned a score of 8 out of 11, with 11 being North Korea and China. Full details can be seen in the interactive map published on the Comparitech website. (Thailand and Vietnam are mislabelled on the map but the information for each country is correct.)

Thailand’s score declined significantly from 6 out of 10 in 2020, mainly because of increased censorship of adult websites including Pornhub, one of the 20 most-visited sites in the country, Comparitech said.

Researchers carried out a country-by-country comparison to see which countries impose the harshest internet restrictions and where citizens can enjoy the most online freedom. It looked at restrictions or bans for torrenting, pornography, social media, virtual private networks (VPN) and messaging/VoIP apps, and restrictions or heavy censorship of political media.

The worst countries for internet censorship were North Korea and China at 11 out of 11, while Iran scored 10. No country scored 9 but six countries including Thailand scored 8.

"All of these countries (in the eighth tier) ban pornography, have heavily censored political media, restrict social media (bans have also been seen in Turkmenistan), and restrict the use of VPNs,” said Comparitech.

“Thailand saw the biggest increase in censorship, including the introduction of an online porn ban which saw 190 adult websites being taken down.”

Thailand was also one of three countries that appeared to have increased censorship from 2020, along with Guinea and Greece.


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