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Thai telcos instruct customers to report royal insults

Mon 17 Oct 2016

Bhumibol Thailand

Thai telecom operators are urging customers to report incidences of ‘lèse-majesté’ or ‘inappropriate content about the royal institution’ posted online and across social media.

Following a request from the country’s broadcasting regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), operators including Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (Dtac) and True Move, have advised users that the Thai government is increasingly tightening the reins over online material deemed insulting to royalty, particularly following the recent death of King Bhumibol.

In accordance with the NBTC guidelines, the operators posted instructions via mobile apps and their social media accounts on how to report inappropriate Facebook and YouTube uploads. The messages also asked users to send URLs and screenshots of offensive websites to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.

According to Pimolpan Siriwongwan-ngam, head of PR at True, commented: ‘The NBTC has asked all mobile operators to send instructions to our clients…We’re only acting as channels to spread the message.’ Representatives of AIS and Total Access similarly confirmed that they were complying with the orders.

The NBTC said it had asked service providers, as well as social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and messaging apps, to monitor online content and block anything deemed inappropriate. Failure to report and block such content would be considered a criminal offense, according to an NBTC statement.

Ministry of Information and Communication Technology spokesperson Chatchai Khunpitiluck warned that offensive comments about the monarchy were hurting the feelings of citizens grieving the loss of their king. Thailand’s longest-reigning monarch King Bhumibol died on 13th October after serving for 70 years. His son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, will succeed the throne, following a period of national mourning.

Thailand has long had tough laws surrounding lèse-majesté, but convictions and punishments have become much more frequent since the country was taken under military control in 2014.


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