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Volunteer 'Cyber Scouts' Censor Web In Thailand 112

Posted by timothy
from the everyone-loves-the-king-repeat dept.
societyofrobots writes "Since the military coup of 2006, Thailand's media freedoms have continually been downgraded. A growing tactic among the ruling elite is to accuse the political opposition of insulting the king, allowing for censorship and political imprisonment of those who dare speak out. In 2010, web censorship began to reach the scales of China and Iran. Now, Thailand has formed a group of volunteers called Cyber-Scouts to patrol the web looking for comments deemed to insult the monarchy. AFP also has a video."
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Volunteer 'Cyber Scouts' Censor Web In Thailand

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  • are they? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aighearach (97333) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:43PM (#36127426) Homepage

    One question I have is, are they actually censoring things that do in fact insult the monarchy, or are they using that to suppress other political speech. Either one is bad, but they are whole different levels of bad. Removing things insulting a Monarch is an annoying anachronism but not very harmful... unless it spreads.

    • by Aighearach (97333)

      The implication I forgot to be explicit about, only if they are using it as an effective tool of political expression does it go near China's policies.

    • That really depends. What if the Monarch is doing something really insulting?

      • Re:are they? (Score:4, Informative)

        by x*yy*x (2058140) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @01:08PM (#36127560)
        In Thailand everyone has very high respect for the king. Practically every business has his picture on the wall and he is celebrated many times of year. And it's not just made up stuff, the people really do love and respect him. That's why, for example, if you drop a coin you should never stop it with your foot because that would make you stomp on the kings picture and it will be considered really rude by everyone who sees it. With so much respect from all the people, I don't think there is anything the king can do for it to be really insulting. Not that I think he would ever try.

        That being said, the king almost never takes part in any political issue. It's for the government to handle, not the king. That's why neither side, not even the red shirts, will insult the king. He doesn't have any part in it and despite the internal conflicts, everyone loves the king. If someone really is insulting him, it's not for political reasons and hence can't be censoring political speech either.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          And it's not just made up stuff, the people really do love and respect him.

          I don't see how you can really tell given that it's illegal to 'insult' him. Are ALL (or even most) of the people who get upset when you stop a coin with your foot really upset that you insulted the king or some/many of them just playing it safe?

          And even if their 'respect' for him is genuine in the sense that they really believe it themselves, is it actually meaningful if it's based on a society in which they're not allowed to hear anything insulting about him?

        • FWIW, in the Soviet Union in the first half of 20th century, most everyone had very high respect for the General Secretary [wikipedia.org] - very much genuine and not faked. We have a word for that - it's called a cult of personality [wikipedia.org]. It's fundamentally incompatible with a free society.

          • by RockDoctor (15477)
            Agreed with your description of a "cult of personality" - and it probably is valid for Lenin, the first few years of Stalin, some of Khrushchev, some of Brezhnev's time in office.

            But if it's "fundamentally incompatible with a free society", what do you make of the personality cults of Franklin, Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy (JF), Reagan (if you're an American), or Churchill, Queen Brenda, Lady Di and The Maggon if you're a Brit. Other countries can make up their own lists.

            I'll throw Tom Paine into the list

        • by cgenman (325138)

          Vajiralongkorn is one heart attack away from the throne. People may love this king (and with reasonably good reason, from what I've seen), but there is no way they're going to worship Vajiralongkorn without a gun pointed at them.

          Unless Sirindhorn somehow gets voted into skipping past Vajiralongkorn, The moment Bhumibol catches a cold Thailand is in deep trouble.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Oh get bent. When it is a criminal offence with up to fifteen years imprisonment what else can they do. Any lying, overweening, egotistical freak, who thinks it could be a criminal offence when other people's opinions differ with his grossly over inflated view of himself has to be some real low life ass hat.

          Nothing ever excludes an individual from taking a proper moral stance about any issue. Clearly this issue, monarchy an anachronistic political deciet based upon centuries of torturing to death dissent

    • by mjwx (966435)

      One question I have is, are they actually censoring things that do in fact insult the monarchy, or are they using that to suppress other political speech.

      Yes, but not very effectively.

      Political bickering and infighting is so intense and changes in government so frequent in Thailand that no one really has enough power for long enough to silence political speech. Second thing is, political speech isn't really on-line in Thailand, most of it is done through public speech and SMS with mobile phones being a lot more prolific then computers. Political motivation is often bought, people can get paid to put on the right colour of shirt and turn up at a protest, 2

      • by Aighearach (97333)

        No, you're missing the point. Is it being used politically? No, the vast majority of Thais love the King and truly and genuinely offended by insults, red, yellow, whatever.

        And your laziness claims are so over the top, there is no way to hide the bigotry behind a few words of Thai. (jing jing)

        • by mjwx (966435)

          No, you're missing the point. Is it being used politically? No, the vast majority of Thais love the King and truly and genuinely offended by insults, red, yellow, whatever.

          And your laziness claims are so over the top, there is no way to hide the bigotry behind a few words of Thai. (jing jing)

          No, you're missing the point. Is it being used politically?

          Please re-read my post, and the question the OP asked. I answered it correctly.

          You seemed to have missed the point.

          No, the vast majority of Thais love the King and truly and genuinely offended by insults,

          I never said anything to the contrary. This is why you need to re-read both my and the GP's post.

          The GP asked if censorship was used to silence political speech, since you full well know the King has no real political power we are taking a

  • by mjwalshe (1680392) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:44PM (#36127434)
    "tomorrow belongs to me round the campfire" instead of "Kumbayah"
  • There are plenty of ways people in Thailand could protect themselves from this sort of overt censorship, if they wanted to do so.
  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@h[ ]ail.com ['otm' in gap]> on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:48PM (#36127450) Homepage

    I fart in king Bhumibol's general direction. His mother was a binturong and his father smelt of durians.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aighearach (97333)

      Before we get carried away using it as an excuse to be an a-hole, lets also remember that the King is not the one who complains about the insults, but rather his fervent supporters. He didn't write these laws, he isn't part of the legislative process to approve them, and he is not the one you should hold responsible.

      • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @01:07PM (#36127552) Journal

        He does hold some responsibility. I don't know the precise details of the situation, but if the supporters are that fervent then I'm sure his making a speech along the lines of "If you wish to defend my honour and my dignity, do so not by repressing people in my name, but by protecting above all else the freedom of every person to speak as they wish, regardless of how abhorrent you may find what they choose to say." would go a very long way towards pointing them in the right direction.

        • exactly, we're not talking about a religious icon here, we're talking about a living human being. if transgressions are being committed in his name, he has the authority and the moral responsibility to say "if this is done in my name, stop doing it"

          • by LingNoi (1066278)

            No he doesn't, he's a monarch like in England. He has no power to make laws or tell people what to do and he has already spoken out that he's not above criticism. Any laws in Thailand have to be voted in or out by its people and no one will propose to get rid of such laws because their political careers would be over; hence the reason there are so many fucked up rules here.

            • if your name is fred quimby, and you are a nobody, and people start setting houses on fire, and they say "we're doing this in the name of fred quimby", if you have any morality about you, you say "if you really are doing that in my name, please stop, as i don't want you to."

              it's an observation beyond the legality of the monarchy, it's about basic morality. if something wrong is done in your name, you make sure to say that your name has nothing to do with it

              • by LingNoi (1066278)

                He's been in hospital for 2 years, he's around 86 years old. The internet is the least of his problems let alone having to personally denounce every moron that pretends to do something in his name.

                • then he's concerned about his legacy. and one sentence out of his mouth would dispel all doubt as to his moral fiber

                  or lack thereof

                  i understand that thailand is going through problems. if the king does not speak now, then when does he ever speak? and if he doesn't speak, even now, of what value is he to his country at all?

                  everyone loves him? ok. then he's not a human being in the eyes of the thai people. he's just an abstract symbol, not a real person. as the thai people have decided. as he has agreed to. w

                  • by LingNoi (1066278)

                    He already HAS said that he's not above criticism, people ignore him.

                    You sound like someone who hasn't got the slightest idea about the country or its people. You spout out garbage like you're an expert on everything yet you haven't even got a basic understanding of the country, it's people and current political situation.

                    • i don't know anything. i'm a nobody. maybe sometimes the person who is least involved can make the best point, no?

                      and you don't get my point. he says he's not above criticism.... good for him. who cares! when does he start TAKING SIDES. the king's refusal to get involved is part of the problem. people use his name for various competing causes. when does the king say "no, you can't use my name, but, you over there, you can use my name, because what you stand for is what is really good for thailand."

                      it's his

        • by LingNoi (1066278)

          He HAS made speeches publicly about how he is not above criticism it doesn't matter because he's the king and everyone respects him to a level that is just beyond a westerners understanding. It doesn't matter what he does because it has very little to do with what the king does or doesn't do and more about what the people that use him as a political tool do.

          Even getting rid of the law is an impossibility because the king can't do that, it's people must vote it in. Who the hell is going to commit political s

        • I believe it would actually be illegal for him to declare himself not beyond reproach.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          He does hold some responsibility. I don't know the precise details of the situation

          The king holds no political power what so ever. If he did wield political power, the Leste Majesty laws would be gone by now. Several times he's called for them to be changed or removed and he grants a royal pardon to anyone convicted by them.

          The king has popular power, which is used against him as much as for him. Politico's invoke his name to create bad laws, even if the King speaks out against them he is powerless as

      • by Holammer (1217422)
        As I understand it, he still allows the process to go on and "graciously" pardons any wrongdoers from time to time. Usually when the case gets too much publicity or involves foreigners. What's stopping him from speaking out against the lèse majesté laws? The constitution, or the fact that he's in bed with the establishment?
      • by JockTroll (996521)
        This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not argue about who insulted who.
    • by makubesu (1910402)
      In the name of the great king Bhumibol, I shall mod this comment down!
    • online translations make this game so much more fun:
      àzà£àààààà©à±àà£àààOEàààà(TM)àà(TM)ààààà£àààà£à£à-àààz
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:52PM (#36127472)

    Bhumibol Adulyadej likes horse cocks.

    there we go.
    now slashdot will be nice and invisible from Thailand.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Bhumibol Adulyadej likes horse cocks.

      there we go. now slashdot will be nice and invisible from Thailand.

      That reminds me of a scene in Black Adder .. "This sausage tastes like a horses willy"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bhumibol Adulyadej not only likes the delicacy of horse cock but also spends time with the sheep and goats in one huge farm orgy.

    • by mickwd (196449)

      And if the result of your action is that Slashdot IS indeed made invisible from a whole country, and that 50-60 million people are indeed cut off from a potentially interesting and useful source of technical information and discussion, I'm sure you'll feel insanely proud of yourself.

      Insanely proud of typing the typical juvenile response that comes to stories like this, and insanely proud about not giving a toss about the potential consequences to millions of people who have done no harm whatsoever to you.

      (Y

      • by Nuskrad (740518)
        (Yes, yes, we all know that those who are technically knowledgeable enough can get round any ban by using suitable proxies, but only a small subset of people have that required level of knowledge).

        Coincidentally, the same small subset that reads Slashdot!
      • by mpos (2153652)

        And if the result of your action is that Slashdot IS indeed made invisible from a whole country, and that 50-60 million people are indeed cut off from a potentially interesting and useful source of technical information and discussion, I'm sure you'll feel insanely proud of yourself.

        For frak sake, why should he be ashamed because other people are against freedom of speech ? You cannot be friend with everybody. Why should I adapt to the least tolerant culture ? Btw, every body know that King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has elephant-ear and like sucking good hard cock while he fucks a dog and his ass is fucked by a pig.

      • ah yes, lets all conform to the lowest common denominator then.

        from a glance at this topic, even without my post slashdot would be blocked fast so I don't feel guilty in any way.

        I'm not stopping anyone from seeing slashdot, some censorship happy thugs are.

    • Or, from what I recall from an older hullabaloo from Thailand:

      "Bhumibol Adulyadej has a foot for a face"

      I don't know, he could be a great guy. But this weird cult mentality situation deserves to be mocked.

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      You'd do better insulting the people who use him to get their political opponents arrested then insulting an 86 year old man who has been in hospital for the last 2 years and has no idea what anyone is doing or why people are still being arrested after he said he's not above criticism.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Even their king himself has held an anti-censorship stance. He pardons everyone who has been accused and sentenced to jail for insulting him, as far as I know. He is the only reason that the military coup in Thailand hasn't turned out like military dictatorships in other countries (Myanmar, for example), because he's the one person all Thais, no matter how opposed, seem to gather around.

    So is his choice to not deem these censorship laws null and void under his own monarchal power, some kind of pseudo-psyc
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @01:01PM (#36127508) Journal

      The King is playing a difficult game. If he too blatantly uses his reserve powers to bash the current leadership, he risks, regardless of how popular he is, undermining the Monarchy itself, which as you point out, is about the only defense the Thai people have against the current regime. As much as people so often decry monarchies in the modern age, they serve the purpose of depriving the government of the day of ultimately executive power, and because the succession is, to a very large degree, beyond political interference, the government has little capacity to get a friendly chief executive.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Also, he and his family do have a serious personal stake and fortune to protect. In a far-from-rich country, he still manages to be the wealthiest monarch in the world.
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhumibol_Adulyadej

        People say Thais love their king, and they do, but the story is more complicated than that. Imagine a society where you must always revere both your elders and your 'superiors', to the extent that you must always Wai them (a kind of bow/greeting) and must never contradict them or speak badly ab

        • by LingNoi (1066278)

          The red shirts of who you speak only have one goal which is to re-elect Taksin the former prime minister who is currently on the run from corruption charges.

          You spew bullshit about his democratically elected brother-inlaw which became prime minister after him and now his sister is going to try to become prime minister. What other country allows one family to continue becoming the prime minister? None, because he and his followers are corrupt. Also democratically elected doesn't mean vote buying which is wha

          • by Boronx (228853)

            The people in Bangkok have no concept of what the rest of the country is like. Even the lowest house servant in Bangkok thinks folks from the countryside are hicks who's political opinions are worthless. Bangkok is only a third of the population. You are a minority.

            • by LingNoi (1066278)

              I've been to both the red shirt and yellow shirt demonstrations and seen how the leaders of both repeat the same "facts" over and over again till the point that the people there believe that they are the true saviours while the other side is pure evil.

              I've seen the red shirt demonstrators with guns and performing illegal searches on peoples cars. I saw them burning buildings after the government told them to leave. Yet you wonder why people have such a low opinion of them in Bangkok when they are burning th

  • A growing tactic among the ruling elite is to accuse the political opposition of insulting the king, allowing for censorship and political imprisonment of those who dare speak out.

    Since child prostitution exists and is unofficially accepted there [wikipedia.org], they can't go for "protect the children" slogan, so they are going for "protect the king".

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by x*yy*x (2058140)
      No it's not even unofficially accepted. You go to jail for a long time if police catches you.
      • Well, it is, and isn't.

        In Thailand, like many other countries that are not the US(not that you'd know these countries exist) The minimum age for it to be actual child prostitution is 14, not 18. This one fact reduces the 40% of total prostitution being child prostitution on that very slanted wikipedia article down to around 5%. Which given the amount of prostitution plus general illegal activity means it actually is being prosecuted.

        Shit, Canada made it onto the map for "massive child prostituion in British

        • by S.O.B. (136083)

          I think you're confusing age of consent and age of majority. In Canada, the age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years [justice.gc.ca], prior to 2008 it was 14. The age of consent for sex workers is 18. Sex workers under the age of 18 in Canada are by definition child prostitutes. Canada also enforces the 18 year age of consent for sex workers on it's citizens when they travel abroad.

          The age of majority refers to the age at which people become adults in the eyes of the law (voting, signing contracts, etc) and has n

          • Hmm, I've never actually read that section of the law myself. I guess I should have, though while IANAL I have been misled by one apparently(friend of a friend type thing).

            I guess for prostitution however the age of majority would affect it since there is an implied contract there. Its a little moot however since they apparently have it written out specifically for that situation, which isn't surprising.

            Was the 18 age of consent for a sex worker thing in there before Harper started mucking about with the la

            • by S.O.B. (136083)

              I don't know for sure how long but I do know that the age of consent for sex workers has been explicitly defined as 18 since the late 1980's when a law was passed clarifying the age of consent/prostitution laws. This was part of the constitutional free-for-all created by the passing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [wikipedia.org] section of the Constitution Act 1982.

  • so they are like the hitler Scouts / Hitler Youth?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the king seems to be an alright guy. He's probably altogether pretty fucked off with the situation in his country, and the military using him etc.

    I think we'd be better off insulting the thai military.

  • at it.

    There's lots of things censored. Red tube & other porn sites, Amazon sites for books about the king, gambling sites.

    But at least they suck at it. You can access the RedTube if you get an address that isn't the front page (actually I just checked and that was old info, now it's blocked everywhere). Some of the blocked addresses (I've seen the list) include a "#something". Obviously the # and after won't be sent so you can still access the "blocked" page.

    This is about some volunteers? I'm pret
  • as symbols of a nation, they can be replaced with a statue or a park

    monarchies are antiquated nonsense that symbolize a nondemocratic impulse in general society that needs to go away

    the french, the russians, the nepalese, they had the right idea

    death to the queen of england

    death to the emperor of japan

    death to the king of thailiand

    • by mjwx (966435)

      the french, the russians, the nepalese, they had the right idea

      The French:
      Ushered in a dictator called Napoleon who launched France on two major wars which they lost both of, losing much of their overseas colonies in the process. Not to mention the bloody executions which were not just restricted to the monarch and royalist but any kind of political dissident.

      The Russians
      Ushered in a group of dictators called the Bolsheviks which robbed their resource rich nation of prosperity for a century, a legacy which continues to this very day.

      Me thinks you didn't think t

      • its called growing pains

        are you honestly going to say a monarchy is better?

        for example, china is better off as a democracy. getting there of course will involve pains. is your argument then that china is better as it is now and should never improve its sorry political status quo? of course not, unless you're an idiot or an asshole

        • by mjwx (966435)

          are you honestly going to say a monarchy is better?

          Currently living in a constitutional monarchy and doing quite well for ourselvesm thank you for asking.

          Same with most of the constitutional monarchies in the world. Especially in Europe.

          for example, china is better off as a democracy

          You're high aren't you?

          China? Democracy?

          He, he, he, very funny good sir.

          China is currently very dictatorial.

          Meanwhile, how's Japan doing?

          its called growing pains

          Funny thing US to UK English.
          You call it "growing pains".
          We call it "bloodthirsty dictatorship".

          Your initial examples were terrible, rather then trying to create better

          • hey, asshole: i said monarchy. a constitutional monarchy is very different. you're obviously intelligent enough to understand the difference between a monarchy pre-french or russian revolution style, which was obviously what the fuck i was talking about, and a constitutional monarchy. you are intelligent enough to understand the difference, right twatstain?

            which leads me to the conclusion that you aren't interested in an honest discussion, so i didn't even bother to read the rest of your comment

            • by mjwx (966435)

              i said monarchy. a constitutional monarchy is very different.

              A constitutional monarchy is still a monarchy.

              If you meant absolute monarchy you should have said absolute monarchy instead of trying to change what you said after being proven wrong.

              BTW, insults and swearing only make you look immature whilst still being wrong.

              you're obviously intelligent enough to understand the difference between a monarchy pre-french or russian revolution style,

              You, however are not. From your OP:

              death to the queen of england

              death to the emperor of japan

              death to the king of thailiand

              All three of these n

              • well, that's the deeper point: fuck your queen, death to her, indeed

                setting aside your inability to argue in good faith (we know we are talking about an absolute monarchy, from the time periods. to think you have a point that the type of monarchy needs to be overtly stated just means you can't fucking think), you are correct: the deeper point is i wish death on your monarchy

                that's not a logical point, that's just a note of passion

                my blood is irish and scottish and i am a descendent of a soldier in the ameri

                • by mjwx (966435)

                  well, that's the deeper point

                  What point.

                  You got caught out calling constitutional monarchs absolute monarchs. You were wrong, show some maturity and admit it. Your post contradicts itself.

                  You are the one who is not capable of arguing rationally. Swearing and talk of killing only proves you're point is not a sane one.

                  You didn't make much sense in the first place, then you attack people who point this out? Are you 13? Because you're not acting like an adult who should be allowed out in public unesc

                  • "we know we are talking about an absolute monarchy, from the time periods. to think you have a point that the type of monarchy needs to be overtly stated just means you can't fucking think"

                    is what i wrote. read it again. and death to your fucking bitch of a queen

                    • by mjwx (966435)

                      Reply to: Re:to hell with all monarchies "we know we are talking about an absolute monarchy

                      Then why did you list three constitutional monarchies in this post.

                      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2155070&cid=36128884 [slashdot.org]

                      So you were saying?

                      You made no sense to begin with, you're trying to get other people worked up to cover this up by swearing and trying to insult them (it's not working BTW, you're the only one getting your knickers in a knot over this).

                      You're trolling.. badly and frankly I'm losing interest in playing with you.

                    • what exactly do you think you have to offer me that is going to change my thinking?

                      or is your point not to argue with me in good faith, but to make a bunch of noise noting the difference between a constitutional monarchy and an absolute one. yes, i understand the difference. and? are you proud you know the difference? you want some sort of recognition?

                      it's an elementary issue that has nothing to do with what this thread is actually about

                      i think you have a problem with understanding the topic of a discussion

                    • by mjwx (966435)

                      what exactly do you think you have to offer me that is going to change my thinking?

                      My question is,

                      Do you think at all.

                      Your own posts contradict themselves. Please think before posting in future.

                    • her dissipated son, and his spoiled pampered runts

                      that's my thought

                      do you have anything to add to that thought of mine?

                      because you obviously have a deep desire to say something to me about that, but so far you've just danced around with tangential comments

                      address me directly on the topic or fuck off

  • All these comments, and not a single one regarding his enlightened view of the sexes [imdb.com]. It is a puzzlement.

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      because that's a over dramatised fiction movie. A lot of Thai people despise this movie for it's non-facts.

      It's like I tried passing off "Team America" as a factual representation of America.

  • These laws were put into effect by the Thai citizens out of a great love and respect for their king. The government, in this case, is just following the wishes of the enormous amount of people who love and support their king. I could see the confusion from the eyes of an american, because america has not had a president worthy such admiration in a long, long time. Typically, censorship is done by a government trying to control it's people. In this case, the people control the government. Something to think
  • A content one, obviously. Good for them.

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