Facebook still accessible in Thailand as government deadline passes

May 16, 2017 - 1:40 PM

The Facebook social media site was still available in Thailand on Tuesday after concerns arose that authorities would shut it down if Facebook did not take down content deemed threatening to national security.

Thailand’s telecoms regulator said last week it would give Facebook Thailand until Tuesday to take down 131 web addresses with content deemed threatening to security or which violated strict lese majeste laws.

The threat prompted a flurry of concern in the Southeast Asian country – one of the most Facebook-active countries in Asia – that Facebook would be blocked.

Morakot Kulthamyothin, president of the Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TISPA), which includes 19 landline and mobile ISPs, as well as major international internet gateway operators covering 90% of the country, said there was no plan to block access to Facebook in Thailand yet.

“We haven’t discussed that action to shutdown Facebook,” Morakot told reporters.

On Tuesday, Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the telecoms commission, went to the TISPA head office to inspect whether all 131 sites authorities had asked Facebook to remove had been taken down.

He is expected to speak to reporters later on Tuesday.

Days after a May 2014 coup by the military, Thailand’s Information Communications Technology Ministry temporarily blocked access to Facebook saying it had received orders to do so by the military in order to suspend content critical of the military.

The junta denied it had ordered the action.

Thailand’s military government has ramped up online censorship, particularly perceived insults to the monarchy, since seizing power in a 2014 coup.

Last month Thailand also banned its citizens from making any online contact with three vocal critics of the monarchy.

Last week the secretary-general of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand said the Ministry of Digital Economy would file a complaint with police this week to press charges against Facebook Thailand under the Computer Crime Act and commerce ministry regulations.