Friday, February 03, 2006

'expert' academic opinions aside, banning websites is certainly permissable under Thai law

Blackout of online stations 'limits rights' - Bangkok Post, June 28, 2005

..."Besides, there are no laws which permit the ICT's internet inspector to close down websites, not even pornographic sites. The government can only sue the owners.''

In Thailand, 'authority' still creates its own law, even after more than a dozen years of democratic rule. Partly this is due to ignorance of basic civics concepts by the ruling elite, and partly due to arrogance and laziness when it comes to actually looking up the law-- they don't.

And neither do newspaper editors.

1) Production and dissemination of porn is in fact against the law in TH, and a section in the penal code states exactly that. Interestingly, the penal code does not criminalize possession. Furthermore, criminal courts are empowered to issue injunctions (such as a demand that a website hosted in Thailand be shut down) based on evidence provided by the police that a violation is occuring. The injunction does not require a full hearing but may be lifted (reversed) at a later date. This is normal and follows international legal norms.

2) Thai ISPs agree not to host porn or seditious sites as one condition of being licensed to operate in Thailand. Hosting porn on their servers could be considered a violation. Enforcement (banning) would logically fall under the discretion and jurisdiction of the ICT ministry, though as I haven't read the ministerial charter I cannot say for sure.

So in fact, yes, the ICT ministry and police DO have legal authority to close down websites in Thailand, the only issue being 'which ones' and how this is to be weighed against any 'free speech' rights granted by the current Thai constitution.

There. Now that we've cleared up the argumentative ground, have at it.

The word is 'sue' is often used here to denote both civil and criminal proceedings. The concept of civil and criminal is also mixed in Thai law itself, not just the Bangkok Post's tangled understanding of it. This is oneof many present day holdovers from a feudal system which was so barbaric and arbitrary that foreign nations often refused to allow their nationals to be tried in Thai courts.