Free Speech

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
censorship, coup, free speech, internet, isps, thailand

Thailand Coup Leaders Insist Their Orders To Censor The Internet Are Not Actually Censorship

from the because-they-are dept

You may have heard that there was yet another coup in Thailand this week (an unfortunately common occurrence in the country). While that, alone, isn't exactly Techdirt-worthy material, there are now reports that the coup leaders have summoned local ISP execs to explain to them how to censor the internet:
The meeting with internet service providers (ISPs) is likely to discuss the directives given to Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) yesterday, when the country was under martial law but before a bloodless coup was declared. Those directives instruct ISPs to block sites containing content related to the coup that is deemed inappropriate – though it’s unclear what that means or how it will be carried out in practice. Yesterday, six sites were blocked, and the NBTC made it clear that social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Line will be monitored closely.
But the really ridiculous and amusing part is where the NBTC insists that its censorship directives are not, in fact, censorship directives, even though that's the only legitimate way to describe them:
An NBTC representative said yesterday that this does not constitute censorship of the web.
As if to hammer home the point that this "non-censorship" absolutely is censorship in every possible way, the Thai military forcibly shut down a web livestream of ThaiPBS reporters covering the news (though, as you can see from the video, everyone seems fairly laid back about it).
Shortly after the forced broadcast TV shutdown last night, ThaiPBS continued with a live YouTube stream of their TV news. But as seen in this video (hat-tip to Coconuts Bangkok for spotting it), a pair of soldiers went into the ThaiPBS newsroom to get the livestream taken offline.
Check out that "not censorship" in action.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Trevor, May 23rd, 2014 @ 2:23pm

    New Motto

    The Thailand Army's new motto should be: "For The Nation, [CENSORED], King, and [CENSORED]."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Shadow Dragon (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 2:23pm

    Weird Coincidence

    I started learning Thai and the Thai Culture and now this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Togashi (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 2:43pm

    Oh, that's all it takes? An official statement? In that case...

    Individuals in Massachusetts orchestrated a mass uploading of hundreds of songs to Youtube this week. A Pirate Party official said yesterday that this does not constitute copyright infringement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Aaron (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 2:54pm

    Seriously though...what DO they consider as censorship?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    JarHead (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    Hmm, one news source I've read said there's TV blackout as well, except for military prepared broadcast.

    So much for the people's movement, when the people "expressly" demand no voting/election whatsoever to be taken place to replace Yingluck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Aaron (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:23pm


    I read that as military prepared breakfast...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:34pm

    I'm now getting "This video is private." on the video feed....


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:42pm


    Well if you can go from 'lobbyist' to 'totally not a lobbyist' by just saying you're not one, why not?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:44pm


    Embedded video in the article works fine as I type this, but just in case, probably a good idea to get an offline copy regardless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 5:11pm


    i wouldn't get so high-and-mighty about THEIR censorship, nearly ALL -so-called- progressive sites CENSOR quite enthusiastically...

    a cohort you would *think* would be most adamant about being against censorship and for free expression, blah blah blah, and they are as censorious as the most knuckle-dragging conservatard site...

    insert sad but true button here...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Graham Keith Rogers, May 23rd, 2014 @ 5:30pm

    Censorship in Thailand

    As part of the control being applied here, all TV is cut, apart from occasional feeds from a military controlled station. The cuts include movies (HBO et al), knowledge channels such as NatGeo, Sport channels, Business news (Bloomberg, etc.) as well as news channels (BBC, CNN).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Censorship in Thailand

    To control the people, you must first control the avenues of communication available to them. Once that's done, you can dictate what 'is' and 'is not' happening to your heart's content, with no one able to contradict you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re:

    The difference you're failing to grasp is that you can't reach a site that a single person says they don't want you seeing, whereas a single click reveals what a large group of people agree is the low point of the site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re:

    so-called- progressive sites CENSOR quite enthusiastically...

    It's censor when the government (or somebody claiming to have the same authority, like a junta) does it. When some private party does it on their website, it's just being selective.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    cc young, May 24th, 2014 @ 12:28am

    TV Censorship, Coup in General

    In Thailand there is one television channel that promotes "red shirt" politics, similar to Fox with Republicans, except more incendiary. The Red Shirts have publicly threatened violent succession in case of a military coup. Instead of singling out that station, the army had all stations shut off their own programming and only carry the army's own channel.

    This included cable channels as well, for example, HBO in Thailand now shows the army channel.

    This is not your ordinary military coup - after all the problems begat by the last coup this was certainly not something desired by the military. Both the yellow shirts and red shirts were each able and willing to bring the country to its knees in its war against the other, a situation cycling and building for some time. For good or bad, this is a gamble by the military to defuse the longstanding conflict. Experience says this is not one of those military dictator for life type situations.

    (If anyone wishes to discuss further can email me bangakmaco at gmail.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2014 @ 12:34am

    Re: Re:

    You sound like those protesters, who when arrested for shouting down someone whose view they disagree with, claim they were exercising their free speech rights. If an audience come to listen to others speak, you have no right to insist that they listen to you instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2014 @ 1:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    you sound like one of those people who don't understand the concept of free speech...

    1. i don't know where the false meme of 'it is only "censorship" (with a capital C) when it is done by gummint, mere nekkid apes are just being 'selective'...
    what a load of horseshit...
    while it is ESPECIALLY egregious (if not 'illegal', which has no meaning these days), when gummints censor, it is STILL "censorship" when private people censor on their own websites, etc...
    it is NOT that they don't have the 'legal' (or even 'moral') right to do so, it is just not reflective of their so-called values and beliefs when they engage in such a practice...
    IT IS ANTITHETICAL to what *every* amerikan should hold dear: the right to free and unfettered expression...
    2. dimbulbs inferred (without any evidence) that i was referring to techdirtia as being one of these progressive sites which censor; you would be wrong...
    i have -on numerous occasions- defended techdirtia BOTH for their generally well-done free-speech policy, as well as the low-impact, 'soft' censorship of the community voting on nominally 'hiding' posts...
    it IS a FORM of censorship, but is the least egregious sort i can imagine...
    3. AGAIN: as a matter of PRINCIPLE, so-called progressives should be for free speech in any/all venues; HOWEVER, they will NOT ALLOW such messy stuff in THEIR LITTLE sandboxes they have complete control over... WHY is that ? ? ?
    because they are closet authoritarians who weally, weally want the trains to run on time, and don't care they are hypocrites and/or liars *SAYING* they believe in 'free speech', but then refusing to honor that bedrock principle when they have complete control of their own little corner of the inertnet world...
    4. if you do not understand the principle of 'free speech', plesae re-read your chomsky, and maybe he can explain it better than you would believe from an inertnet loudmouth...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Aaron (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 3:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It is not censorship when a private party removes posts on his own website. You have no inalienable right to be heard on a particular person's website, just as you have no right to shout anything you want in someone's living room, and they have every right to ask you (or force you) to leave.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2014 @ 9:17am

    Well, technically it's not censorship if you use the following definition:


    noun: censorship
    the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts.

    After all, they're not actually examining what the people are saying. They're preventing the people from saying it in the first place. "You've said something unacceptable in the past, so we're not going to allow you to say anything in the future."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous, May 24th, 2014 @ 11:11am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous, May 24th, 2014 @ 11:13am


    Wha---? What happened there?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous, May 24th, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Meanwhile in Amerikkka, congress and courts create exceptions to the first amendment, exceptions that are found nowhere in the constitution (what part of "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" do they not understand?). And then they want us to believe it's for our own good, the good of society, for the good of the children, etc.. Censorship by any other name and for any reason is still censorship.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 2:27am


    When they say its censorship

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 7:58am

    Here in Thailand

    General Prayuth has dissolved the civil court and declared military rule with him as the judge.

    General Prayuth has dissolved the Senate, although rigged for the coup generals who control 50% of the votes, Prayuth doesn't trust this body to act in his personal interest.

    General Prayuth has appointed himself Prime Minister and dissolved the government and police and DSI.

    General Prayuth has suspended the constitution, although it was written by the military coup of 2006. We kept voting for the wrong party.

    General Prayuth has signed a paper saying the king gave him permission, although the king has not been seen, nor the prince who speaks for him these days. The paper has no royal stamps or signatures.

    When questioned about elections, Prayuth walks out of the press conference.

    TV only shows the princesses that the military wants to have as monarchs. The pro democracy prince goes unmentioned. The king never shown.

    Anti coup protests have been popping up, the TV stations are not allowed to show or mention them. Some press is notably ignoring that and printing it.

    Shots were fired over the heads of protestors in Chiang Mai.

    Journalists are being told to report in, and then arrested for tweeting.

    An army colonel is back, he was raising an army last year to overthrow the elected government, this times, he's running 'pro-coup' mobs for the army....

    He's @pookem on twitter.

    And the army has created hotlines for people to report websites with anti coup messages on them for the army to quickly punish.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 8:09am

    Here in Thailand 2

    Oh and the lies and disinformation is starting.

    Here the military surround a small group quickly before it gets big like yesterday. In Thai the soldier is telling people that this mob is paid, that's what the whoops are.

    Facebook man burntobeamillionaire2 is back. He warns that they're planning to set off bombs to let them shoot protestors as terrorists.

    Youtube video K1mSXNP1WCI shows examples of pro-democracy flash mobs that are appearing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 9:16pm

    Here in Thailand 3

    Two reporters have been detained for criticizing the coup General Prayuth. One committed the crime of suggesting their power was 'illegitimate'.

    Two more reporters have been cautioned, for aggressive questioning. One from Bangkok Post, Wassana Nanuam (@WassanaNanuam ), and Supparerk Thongchaiyasit from Thai Rath news paper asked General Prayuth if he planned to be Prime Minister.

    Meanwhile General Prawit has been appointed as Chairman of the Junta. This is the same General Prawit who backed Suthep 'people's ' coup! So no real suprises, the backer of the 'peoples' mob is the backer of the military coup is connected to army special warfare, who do the fake grenade attacks.

    It was the same as 2008, when a 'mob' took over the airport, then grenades hit them, killing 3 guards, then the army stepped in to 'restore peace' and kicked out the elected government.

    And later we see Wikileaks reveal the plot was pre-planned by the Kings Privy Council. Including the involvement of the military. So if the military wasn't reacting to the grenade attack, rather their involvement was pre-planned, then who threw the grenade? Duh!

    All this group of Generals are Prem Titsulanonda's, the real dictator in Thailand. He's the one the king bows to inside the palace.

    A good article on what they planned in 2008: es-prem-agree/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Pragmatic, May 30th, 2014 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re: Censorship in Thailand

    Seek out and find an effective bogeyman on whom to pin the blame for the economic downturn that will surely result. If you can't disarm the people you can certainly limit their purchasing power. Get them all paranoid and distrustful of each other. Recruit and train thought leaders and set up an echo chamber to which only the "enlightened" or "correct" are invited, and endlessly repeat the same talking points until the and their adherents believe it.

    Convince the adherents that there are great rewards for sticking to the system and that the penalties that should result for those who don't aren't being brought to bear because the bogeymen are protecting them, acting as a cushion from the consequences of their actions.

    Convince the adherents that they alone are good moral people and that non-adherents are not only morally compromised, they're a threat to society at large and in league with the bogeyman.

    The only way to enforce an authoritarian regime is to appeal to the authoritarians in the population and give them positions of power.

    'Murica! Or Thailand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. icon
    The Wanderer (profile), Nov 23rd, 2014 @ 6:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, no.

    "Censorship", in its basic sense, is simply the attempt to prevent some (particular) audience from being exposed to some (particular) information.

    If government or other authoritarian involvement were essential to the concept of censorship, "self-censorship" would not be a stock phrase, because the concept would be a contradiction in terms when done by anything but a government entity.

    The distinction between censorship and "just being selective" is that someone being selective just chooses what information they themselves will present, whereas someone engaging in censorship attempts to restrict what other people can present.

    Sometimes these can overlap; for example, the editors of a newspaper who choose which Letters to the Editor to publish are certainly being selective, but may also be engaging in censorship if they make that choice based on wanting to keep their readers from being exposed to the information in some of the letters. But the distinction is still important.

    (None of what happens in Techdirt comments seems to be censorship to my eye, for the record. Unless there are posts actually being deleted, which I'm fairly sure is not the case.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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