Friday, January 11, 2008

Website shut down over royal content

Website shut down over royal content

A website containing content critical of the monarchy was shut down on Friday. The site's Web host was threatened with being closed unless it withdrew the site.

Published on January 6, 2008

Thanapol Eiwsakul, editor of the Fah Diew Kan political magazine website, told The Nation yesterday it was no longer accessible.

"It was like shutting down a printing house that prints a magazine. This is the price we're paying," said Thanapol, who insisted he always cooperated with the authorities

and deleted material considered offensive to the monarchy.

He believed the posting of critical remarks following the death of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana on Wednesday might have led to the shutting down of the site by the Information and Communications Technology Ministry.

Ministry spokespeople were unavailable yesterday.

Some visitors to the site posted critical remarks to the effect that the news media generalised when it said the whole country was in grief following the death of the Princess.

One correspondent expressed refusal to follow the mourning dress code.

"I think we're one of the few sites posting remarks against the monarchy," Thanapol explained.

Reaction was quick at another website,, an online alternative newspaper, after it reported the shutdown yesterday. Correspondents both supported and criticised the closing.

Thanapol said he was considering legal action against the ministry and the host company, Internet Service. It sent him an e-mail explaining the site had been shut as a result of offensive content.

He added, however, that he had no faith in the judicial system.

"The interpretation of the law will never side with human rights; it will likely endorse unjust use of power, but we insist on the principle of human rights and that we're innocent and open about expressing critical views. We don't see the government as acting in the open when it pressures private companies," he said.

Thanapol said he had received no warning from the ministry.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand, a free Internet campaign group, released a statement yesterday saying it believed the closing to be illegal under the Computer Related Crimes Act.

"Such censorship must be by court order only, and no application was made for

one. This must be preceded by a letter of inquiry, notimmediate closure. Furthermore, should an entire business be shut down because of private-individual posts to its site? Are the other

websites hosted on the same server merely unimportant collateral damage?" the group said.

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation

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