Thailand blocks 2,300 sites deemed insulting to king

Communications Minister said waging a cyber war against anti-monarchy activists was her top priority.

Thailand blocks 2,300 sites deemed insulting to king

Thailand has blocked 2,300 Web pages deemed insulting to the country's revered monarchy and plans to block another 400, Communications Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee said on Tuesday.

Ranongrak, a former nurse who joined the cabinet last month, said waging a cyber war against anti-monarchy activists was her top priority, though critics of censorship have said the country needs to liberalise its telecommunications industry urgently to compete with the rest of the world. She said she was seeking help from the ministries of interior, defence and justice to take "drastic action" against those who distributed insulting words and photos of the royal family.

"We will have to raise awareness on our youths to right wrongs," the ministry's web site, www.mict.go.th, quoted Ranongrak as saying.

The ministry also planned to spend 45 million baht ($1.3 million) on equipment for its round-the-clock war room to fight messages defaming the royal family members, Suea Loruthai, a senior bureaucrat at the ministry, was quoted on the web site as saying.

Lese-majeste, or insulting the monarchy, is a serious offence in Thailand, where many people regard 81-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej as semi-divine. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Critics of the law say it is open to abuse since a complaint can be filed by anybody against anybody, no matter how minor the alleged disrespect.

Reuters
Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2009, 15:13
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