From Jungle and Street to Cyberspace: Internet Politics and Censorship in Thailand
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From Jungle and Street to Cyberspace: Internet Politics and Censorship in Thailand

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by pitch pongsawat

by pitch pongsawat

talked at UNC, February 2009

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From Jungle and Street to Cyberspace: Internet Politics and Censorship in Thailand From Jungle and Street to Cyberspace: Internet Politics and Censorship in Thailand Presentation Transcript

  • From Jungle and Street to Cyberspace: Internet Politics and Censorship in Thailand
  • Updated News
    • "We have blocked more than 2,300 websites (for allegedly insulting the monarchy). We are preparing to ask for court approval to shut down an additional 400 sites and will amend the law to increase powers of ICT officials as soon as parliament reopens," (14 Jan 09)
    • “ We have blocked YouTube because it contains a video insulting to our king,” (4 April 07)
    • Ministry of Information and Communication Technology
    • Sep 08 (Under new Computer Crime Act 2007: 400 webs banned as “computer crimes) by the court [344 infringed upon the monarchy 2 religious, 6 porn , 1200 blocked as national security threats]  Ban = shut down domestic web by ISP  Block = preventing non-Thai based site to get to Thailand
    • Oct 08 Democrat party proposed to tighten up the Computer Crime Act - specifically to increase the penalty of the less majesty sites, Dec 09 Democrat as new government put top priority to defend the monarchy as an institution of reverence.
    View slide
  • Internet Website Banned in Thailand 2004 View slide
  • Blocked Website by ICT
    • Internet Insurgency?
    • 15 Jan 09 - A man suspected of distributing online content offensive to the royal institution was arrested. If he is charged with the CC Act – he will be the 3 rd case since 2007) (cybercrime law or Criminal Code – Lese Majeste) – He was tracked via his IP address and charged for posting to a public web discussion board.
    • 13 Jan 09 – The Police charged Political Science Prof. on Lese Majeste as a result of the Anti-Coup publication (a coup for the rich) – banned at university bookstore but available online – right after coup 06 Midnight University Website was temporarily closed down (blocked)
  • Initial argument
    • Infrastructure of Censorship has been in place as a Post-Coup Truth Management Regime – internet censorship is the most active form of political censorship in Thailand
    • Close connection between online and offline politics (progressive, peculiar, and deployment of authoritarian legal infrastructure to deal with current political dissents)
    • Anti-Thaksin Government ignited the Royalist Rhetoric, the Coup used Royalist Rhetoric, hence the Anti-Coup internet groups use anti-monarchy rhetoric
    • Self-censorship has widespread effects than censorship and closely connected with censorship structure
    • Rise, development, and the not so bright prospect of democracy in Thailand as seen through Thailand’s internet politics
  • Structure of the Talk
    • Characteristics of Internet Politics
    • Pre-Coup period: (Pre-Insurgency)
    • Coup and Post Coup Period (Internet Insurgency)
    • Concluding Remark
  • Thailand’s Internet Users in the Global Context http :// www . internetworldstats . com / stats3 . htm#asia ( June 2008) 305.5 %   21.9 % 1,463,632,361   6,676,120,288 WORLD TOTAL 406.1 % 100.0 % 15.3 % 578,538,257 114,304,000 3,776,181,969 TOTAL ASIA 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.1 % 1,200 - 1,108,777 East Timor 1566.7 % 0.0 % 1.5 % 100,000 6,000 6,677,534 Laos 1066.7 % 0.0 % 0.5 % 70,000 6,000 14,241,640 Cambodia 486.8 % 0.0 % 46.2 % 176,029 30,000 381,371 Brunei Darussalem 3,900.0 % 0.0 % 0.1 % 40,000 1,000 47,758,181 Myanmar 125.0 % 0.5 % 58.6 % 2,700,000 1,200,000 4,608,167 Singapore 483.3 % 2.3 % 20.5 % 13,416,000 2,300,000 65,493,298 Thailand 600.0 % 2.4 % 15.1 % 14,000,000 2,000,000 92,681,453 Philippines 302.8 % 2.6 % 59.0 % 14,904,000 3,700,000 25,274,133 Malaysia 9,979.8 % 3.5 % 23.4 % 20,159,615 200,000 86,116,559 Vietnam 1,150.0 % 4.3 % 10.5 % 25,000,000 2,000,000 237,512,355 Indonesia 99.7 % 16.2 % 73.8 % 94,000,000 47,080,000 127,288,419 Japan Use Growth ( 2000-2008 ) (%) Users in Asia Penetration (% Population) Internet Users, Latest Data Internet Users, (Year 2000) Population ( 2008 Est.)  
  • Web Ranking: 23 Feb 2009
  • Internet Politics
    • 2.0 technology: “Interactive”
    • Rising of Public Space or Deepening Social Conflicts ?
    • Thai government does not own the channel  Need to manipulate the private via legal means and fear atmosphere to stop the operation (fear against being charged)
    • Suppression took the form of moralization – with monarchy as the highest moral issue
  • Structure of Censorships
    • User  via browser
    • Website
    • Web Hosting/ Server
    • Internet Service Provider
    • International Gateway
    • (Global) internet: Non-Thai
    • --. (jam, hack, ban, blocked (bypassing with software))
  • 1. Pre-Insurgency Period
    • 1.1 The Rise of Internet and Internet Politics (Virtual Democracy: 1999-2004)
    • 1.2 From Online to Offline Politics (2005-Sep 2006): Anti-Thaksin Movement (Manager.com +ASTV+Yellow Shirt)
  • 2. Coup/Post Coup Period (Internet Insurgency)
    • 2.1 Coup Period
    • 2.2 Post Coup Period: The New Truth Management Regime (Criminal Crime Act and the rise of Lese Majeste charges)
  • 1.1 The Rise of Internet and Internet Politics (Virtual Democracy: 1999-2004)
  • Thailand Total Population = 65,493,298 Thailand Net Population = 13,416,000
    • Origin: Technological and Commercial Drives (+ Pornographic)
    • 1997 as a take off – reached hundred thousand
    • 1999 reached million
  • Political Webboards
    • 2 Types:
    • The Café Style – “Rooms” or “Online Communities” : the Online and the “Underground” Online
    • The Extension of Printed Media (News Agency + Journal) – Manager.co.th, Prachathai.com, the Nation, Fah Deaw Karn (both mainstream and alternative)
  • Political Message Board @ www.pantip.com “ The Rajadamnoen Café” http :// www . pantip . com / cafe / rajdumnern /
  • The Political Webboard
    • “ The Recipe ”: Pol Web =Technology + Commercial + Entertainment
    • “ Context”: Elected Parliamentary System of 1997 Democratic Constitution (?)
    • “ Democratic Possibility” -> “The New Public Sphere”
    • “ Limit of Possibility” -> From “Trust” (The IP tracking dispute and the polarization of the like rather than deliberation) to “Untouchable Issue/ Self-Censorship (The Monarchy) –”
  • More Technological Development
    • Blog: personal or (Both content and Webboard)  more accessible to create the content (Bangkokpundit, New Mandala, FACT, Thai Political Prisoners)
    • Streaming and Video Hosting: Youtube – more visual and creativity?
  • 1.2 From Online to Offline Politics (2005-Sep 2006): Anti-Thaksin Movement (Manager.co.th +ASTV+Yellow Shirt)
  • 4 Major Factors  The Rise of Anti-Thaksin Movement
    • Media Manipulation : Thaksin and the Media Capitalism (Ownership and Major Sponsor)
    • Slowness in Media Reform as (regressive) Part of Political Reform  State Monopoly Continues
    • Rise of rural based populism regime  ignoring urban middle class liberal issue  corruption
    • Still Democratic Era: Freedom of Speech guaranteed by 1997 People's Constitution
  • “ The Manager.co.th Movement”
    • Started when the TV News Commentary by the manager.co.th at the government’s channel was banned
    • Newspaper + Internet + Satellite TV combined
    • Lived Program -> News Commentary with Anti-Corruption Flavor (23 Sep 05)
    • The Rally to Oust Thaksin since the Temasek case and increasing Royalist and Nationalist Flavor (14 Jan 06)
    • “ An Invitation” to the 19 Sep 06 Coup
    • Resisting 2008 – 2 Thaksin related elected governments  closed down the airport  stepped down after Prime Minister Somchai was disqualified by the court rule
  • The Recipe of the Manager’s “Online + Offline Politics” = Sustain the Critical Mass During the Period of Media Manipulation & Monopoly + entertainment (gossip on sexual life) + hosting outside Thailand
  • 2006-2008 hits
  • 3 months – manager.co.th
  • 23 Feb 2009
    • Rank number 6 th (among 9 entertainment webs)
    • Visitor:230,000
  • Web Ranking: 23 Feb 2009
  • 6 months compared (manager v.s. prachatai)
  • Censorship during democratic period
    • Less political issues, more moral issue (70% porn)
    • No Cyber Crime Law + Discretion/Arbitrary by the Police with criminal law
    • Separatist website banned(Pulo)
    • 2005 Anti-corruption (Anti-Thaksin) banned  Insider.com,
    • 2004 -> Manusya (Anti-Monarchy) blocked + The King never smiles banned  accused of linking with Thaksin’s administration ..> conspiracy and gossip politics  legitimacy in decline  pretext to the coup
    • Still Democratic Environment  1997 Constitution in place
  • The September 2006 Effect on Blocked Websites 2. Coup/Post Coup Period – Sep 08- (Internet Insurgency)
  • Time Line of Internet War: First Round
    • 19 Sep: Coup – Coup Announcement + Media Office Controlled
    • 20 Sep: Martial Law & The Junta’s 5 th Order, the 7 th (Ban on Political Activities), and the 10th (Media Collaboration Request)  The Rise of the ICT as the arbitrator
    • 20 Sep – 3 Oct: Self-Censorship @ Pantip Webboard
    • 21 Sep: Junta’s Media Meeting and the Ban on the Lived Text Message on the TV News Talk, International Cable News on Thaksin Banned 22 Sep: First Anti-Coup Demonstration – No Local Broadcast
    • 29-30 Sep: Midnight Uni.Web was blocked (Server)
    • 1 Oct interim appointed government
    • 15 Nov: ICT’s Cyber Crime Act was Proposed for the Junta Appointed Parliament
    • 29 Jan: ICT announced a ban on Camfrog for pornographic content (Top Three Visitors in the World – Largest in the 18+ Category)
    • 5 Feb: The Government launched the “War Room” for the “Defensive Public Relations” Against the “Old Power”
    • 4 April – 31 August: Youtube.com blocked due to the “Offensive to the Monarchy” clips
    • 7-10 April: ICT banned Pantip’s Political Webboard due to National Security issues
    • 24 Jun: Camfrog program got attention as the channel for Anti-Junta Demonstration which got less attention by the media
    • 3 July: Junta’s 5 th Order was lifted up
    • 18 July: Announcement of the Cyber Crime Act
    • 20 July: ICT web hacked !!!
    • End of July: Thaksin’s own website (truetraksin.com) launched
  • The Internet War
    • Five Types of Anti-Coup Internet Media (Not Mutually Exclusive)
    • The Pro-Thaksin
    • The Anti-Coup
    • The Alternative Media – Rising
    • The Pornographic
    • The Anti-monarchy  also mixed with 2 and 3 in the webboard
    • 2) + 3) = Small Scale Media and NGOs (but not overall NGOs  The Weaken Civil Society
    • The Vulnerable: Pornographic + Politics + Lese Majeste (Webboard) (No Explanation When Blocked)  blocked on moral issue
  • Example: www.hi-thaksin.net
  • www.truethaksin.com
  • www.prachathai.com
  • www.midnightuniv.org
  • Camfrog: Transgression as Freedom of Speech
  • www.nocoup.org
  • http://www.wevoteno.net
  • Hacked ICT Website 20 July 2007
  • ChupitchTV.com
  • The New Truth Management Regime (Criminal Crime Act and the rise of Lese Majeste charges)
    • Criminalization of the Cyber
    • Although initiated during Thaksin, it was originated as a package of 5 cyber laws
    • 1) Electronic Business Act (2002)
    • 2) Electronic Money Transfer Act (*)
    • 3) Cyber Crime Act (2007)
    • 4) Personal Information Protection Act (**)
    • 5) Information Infrastructure Development Act (*)
    • Court’s Order is needed for the ICT’s banning decision and investigation
    • Initially with the issue of business infrastructure and porn site
  • The So-called “Cyber Crimes”
    • Hacking the system
    • Unauthorized alteration of message and picture
    • Sending and Reaching (including using the proxy) Information that affected National Security (The Upcoming Internal Security Act)
    • Prison and Fine
  • Politicization of the Cyber Crime Law
    • Lese Majeste: national security charge under Criminal Law aimed to protect the king from any defamation
    • Charged by the police on behalf of the state
    • 3-15 years in prison
    • Mainly political accusation
    • Debates (totally abandoned or more sensible?)
  • Beyond Domestic Internet Insurgency: The Thai National Political “Self” in the International Democratic World:
    • Practical need to defend Thai style democracy: The King (as not being involved with the coup) and the Foreign Military Assistance
    • Thai Democratic Self: Thainess
    • Is there any reason the Thai state get frustrated with internet insurgency?
  • Thai Democratic Self – case 1
    • - CLARIFICATION ON THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE TITLE OF THE COUNCIL FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORM (CDR)
    • September 26, 2006, 8:10 pm
    • No. 428/2549
    • As the previous English translation of the Thai title of the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy had led to misunderstanding and false interpretation in some countries and for some foreign media on the role of the Monarchy, the Council, therefore, deems it appropriate to change the English translation of its title to “COUNCIL FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORM” or CDR. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs thus requests all media to refer to the Council by this new English translation of its title in their reporting.
    • Press Release – Ministry of Foreign Affair
  • Thai Democratic Self: Case 2
    • Chotsak and Jitra
    • Ms Jitra, 36, was sacked by the factory with the court endorsement after wearing a T-shirt with a slogan supporting the right not to stand when the royal anthem is played in cinemas when she made a TV appearance in April. She appeared on a show as a union representative, not as a BFT employee.
    • “ hurting the spirit of Thai nation” กระทบจิตวิญญานของประชาชาติไทย
    • Judicial Arbitrariness
    • Less Majeste: Insult v.s. Defame
  • Thai Democratic Self 3: Anything New?
    • Issue of Sovereignty: Not the Thai subject – media with non-Thai subject
    • Real Insurgency – spread like a virus and more serious than the South because of the monarchy issue. New technology allow the new form of spontaneous movements