Bhutan's Gross National Unhappiness: In The Wake Of The Country's First Facebook Defamation Lawsuit, Fears Of Censorship Rise
from the well,-that's-sad dept
The Kingdom of Bhutan is probably best known for its splendid location in the Himalayas, and for eschewing measurements of Gross Domestic Product in favor of Gross National Happiness. In the one Techdirt story so far about the nation, we also reported that Bhutan's government seemed to lack a sense of humor when it came to the Internet. Three years later, the online situation threatens to deteriorate further:
Bhutanese journalist Namgay Zam is facing defamation charges over a Facebook post, marking the first time that anyone in the Himalayan country has been taken to court over their social media activities.
As the detailed Global Voices post makes clear, this is a complicated story, involving not just journalists, but also senior judges and powerful business and political figures. The ramifications of this case are likely to be serious. Here's what the country's prime minister said, quoted on the Bhutanese Web site Kuensel Online:
As of now, Bhutanese are using social media in a sensible manner but often we come across news that takes an unhealthy trend. For that, we do have a social media policy coming into force where we have incorporated certain restrictions regarding what we can share on social media and what we can't share or what kind of news can come into the social media, among others.
It remains to be seen what that new policy will entail, and the extent of the censorship imposed. But it's sad to see a country that cares about maximizing national happiness taking precisely the same route as less enlightened nations.