Thai government tries to shut down 400 websites

By Oliver Luft | Thailand’s Information and Communications Technology Ministry sought court orders yesterday to shut down about 400 websites and advised internet service providers to block 1,200 sites it considers a danger to national security or disturbing social order.

ICT minister Mun Patanotai said the department had advised ISPs to immediately block these websites, which it claimed were detected between March and August this year, and had sought court actions against them under article 20 of Thailand’s Computer Crime Act.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that the ministry claimed the sites “disturbed the peaceful social order and morality of the people, and/or which were considered detrimental to national security”.

This move to shut down online dissent follows the Thai authorities’ declaration of a state of emergency yesterday as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand the government’s resignation.

Thai prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, announced sweeping curbs to civil liberties to maintain calm, after which the ICT Ministry said it had detected more than 1,200 websites that violated the Computer Crime Act.

In addition, a Thai court issued three orders to shut down about 400 websites, 344 of which, it claimed, carried material that was contemptuous of the country’s royal family. The other blocked websites included two with religious content, one video sex game and five sites deemed to carry obscene content.

The ICT ministry, the Bangkok Post reported, also sought help from the police to “bring all the violators to trial”.

Samak gave the army power to restore order on the streets of Bangkok yesterday after fighting started between his supporters and those demanding he quit.

One demonstrator was killed and dozens were injured during the worst violence seen since anti-government campaigns began in May.

The present crisis started just over a week ago as members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy took over government buildings in an attempt to try to force the Thai government to stand down.