Oldest trick in the tyrant's book

A 'Bangkok Post' reader criticizes the ICT Ministry for "reducing and disabling" Thais' access to information and for wasting resources to do so

Bangkok Post
Sunday, November 2, 2008

Your article regarding the plans of the ICT Ministry brought up some important points but confused two separate issues.

The first part of your article discussed the plan of the ICT Ministry to do away with the need for a court order to shut down a local website deemed offensive for whatever reason, by whoever is deciding for the country what is and is not offensive for the day. The reason a court order is needed is so there is someone checking the system is not abused, so I find the possibility of the removal of this need to be quite alarming.

The other part of your article regards filtering (ie blocking) of websites outside of Thailand and a proposal to purchase software to assist the act at a massive cost of 500 million baht. Aside from the fact that internet filtering slows down internet access for everyone, requires constant maintenance and attention, and tends to be highly ineffective, what is wrong with the existing filtering system? How much tax money was and continues to be wasted on that?

The ICT Ministry should be serving Thais and acting as an information enabler, but has instead been actively reducing and disabling what Thais can access for years, all at the whim of whoever is at the helm at the time. Blocking websites that are still visible to the rest of the world at a cost of 500 million baht is a colossal waste of resources -- all because someone might get upset.

Ben Harris