Tuesday, 27 June, 2017

Thailand backs off threat to block Facebook over content

Facebook posts Thai government threatens Facebook Thailand with legal action if illegal content isn't removed
Jeanne Townsend | 18 May, 2017, 16:28

The Thai government has deemed the freaky images of its king a threat to national security and said they violate the country's strict "lese majeste" laws.

Facebook isn't alone in being pushed to censor its pages.

According to reports, the authorities have redoubled efforts to purge the Thai web following the October ascension of the country's new king Maha Vajiralongkorn. In Thailand, where internet censorship is not uncommon, "illegal" content includes that which is seen as a threat to national security or to violate the lese majeste rule, which prohibits any form of insult to Thai royalty. Mocking the monarchy in Thailand is punishable by up to 15 years in jail and the authorities go to great lengths to remove all potentially embarrassing and unfavorable depictions of the country's rulers.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) continued to be available in Thailand as the deadline set by the government passed.

"That's why Facebook didn't block all the posts by 10am on Tuesday", he said.

The head of the service providers' association, which groups 19 landline and mobile ISPs and worldwide gateway operators covering 90 per cent of Thailand, also told reporters there was no plan to block access yet.

The firm has previously said it carefully scrutinises requests made by governments wanting to restrict content.

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Thailand has not gone through with its threat to ban Facebook for spreading video footage of its king wearing a crop top.

A fortnight ago members of the Thai Internet Service Provider Association sent an email to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg asking his company to block the posts with content ruled illegal in Thailand.

Facebook did not provide details of the pages they took down, but did tell the Deutsche-Presse Agentur last week that it blocked content, which contravened local laws.

Facebook could be shut down in Thailand today, after images of the king wandering around a shopping centre wearing a yellow crop top were circulated online.

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The Thai royal family has some pretty draconian laws when it comes to sharing Facebook posts. "If we determine that it does, then we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory and notify people who try to access it why it is restricted", the spokesperson added.

Investigations by CNIL revealed that among six infringements by Facebook, the social media site compiled a mass of users' personal data to display targeted advertising and collected data on browsing activity on third-part websites using the "datr" cookie without prior knowledge.

The video was posted online by ex-Reuters journalist and vocal critic of the the Thai government Andrew Marshall.

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