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Thai Gov't Welcomes Twitter's Censorship Plans 113

Posted by timothy
from the man-vs.-king dept.
patiwat writes "The Thai government has called Twitter's tweet censorship move a 'welcome development.' Tweets may now be blocked at the request of the Thai government; the system will be used to discourage and punish lese majeste (criticism of the Thai King). The government previously declared that Facebook users worldwide 'liking' a lese majeste Facebook link would also be prosecuted; over 10,000 Facebook pages have been removed and hundreds of individuals, including children and academics, have been jailed. Calls to reform the lese majeste laws have been fiercely criticized by no less than the Army Commander, whose backing is critical to the government's stability."
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Thai Gov't Welcomes Twitter's Censorship Plans

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  • Moron (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:16AM (#38864883)

    Anyone who needs laws to prevent criticism of themselves obviously has a problem, and banning the criticism is sticking their head in the sand.

    • Re:Moron (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:51AM (#38865327) Homepage

      That's not exactly the situation.
      The law is simply a stick for the military government with which to beat citizens with. It's the same with all these thought-crime type laws, and the king may or may not even care.

      • Re:Moron (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday January 30, 2012 @12:28PM (#38865783) Homepage Journal

        I'm pretty sure that in Thailand's case, it's not to keep people from saying bad things about the government, but to keep them from saying bad things about the king. The king's picture is on Thai money, and if, like us westerners do, you step on one to keep it from flying away in the wind you're likely to be severely beaten by the outraged populous.

        The king of Thailand was on an American talk show in the '70s, and they would not show it in Thailand because the show's host's foot pointed at the king.

        I was there in 1974 in the USAF, it was weireder than I could imagine. Absolutely nothing was the same as here; not even the colors of the dirt or grass. It was truly an alien place, and their culture is more alien to American culture than the fictional Klingons or Romulans.

        Culture clash is the the internet's #1 enemy. What is a right to a Muslim in Iran (such as "honor killings") is a felony that could have you put to death in Texas. Freedom of expression is our right in America, but drawing a picture of Muhammed could have you jailed or killed in Iran.

        • by DM9290 (797337)

          Culture clash is the the internet's #1 enemy. What is a right to a Muslim in Iran (such as "honor killings") is a felony that could have you put to death in Texas. Freedom of expression is our right in America, but drawing a picture of Muhammed could have you jailed or killed in Iran.

          Barbaric practices that need to be left behind in the stone age, need to be left behind with or without the internet. Labeling them as "culture" does not make them acceptable.

          Honour Killings, female genital mutilation, and censorship of government criticism are objectively wrong. They are wrong in Iran, they are wrong in Texas, they are wrong in Thailand, they are wrong everywhere.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Barbaric practices that need to be left behind in the stone age, need to be left behind with or without the internet. Labeling them as "culture" does not make them acceptable.

            I completely agree. We must use all ideological weapons (and actual weapons where possible) at our disposal to eradicate any variance from contemporary Western (and specifically Nth American) culture in the world. The technique of contrasting "honour killings" or "genital mutilation" in the East with "freedom" in the West is a good

            • by DM9290 (797337)

              Leave it to an Anonymous Coward to put a post up here in favor of genital mutilation, and honor killings.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            How about the death penalty? How about the invasion of Iraq? People who live in glass houses... Before you try to take the speck out of your brother's eye, remove the plank from your own.

            • by DM9290 (797337)

              How about the death penalty? How about the invasion of Iraq? People who live in glass houses... Before you try to take the speck out of your brother's eye, remove the plank from your own.

              Sorry I don't know what you're trying to say. Apparently your parables are either nonsense or else fallacious.

              First: the Invasion of Iraq and the death penalty did not cause of female genital mutilation or honor killings so who cares?
              (And I'm against them, not that it has any relevance whatsoever to my claim that barbarism must be stopped regardless who practices it)

              Second: People who support or tolerate female genital mutilation and honor killings or enable them with your irrational & immoral post-mod

        • Re:Moron (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Ltap (1572175) on Monday January 30, 2012 @04:06PM (#38868553) Homepage
          Actually, I'm not aware of a single example of honour killings in Iran. If you want a better example of a "pinnacle of Islamic rule" Saudi Arabia (the US puppet/ally) would be much more appropriate. Other candidates would be Indonesia, for complicated reasons. Since Indonesia is primarily ethnically non-Arabic, yet Arabs are given higher social status and considered more "true" to Islam (due to "Arab supremacist" themes embedded in the Koran, not the least a prohibition (often ignored) against translating it), much like Spanish-descended people in Latin America (who have not "bred" with natives and are technically a non-Latino minority). You could probably make a decent argument for why Indonesia's Muslim population is so fervent -- compensation for feelings of inferiority due to not being Arabic is the likeliest.

          It's also important to realize the context of why they believe what they do. Essentially, it's a form of semi-primitive tribalism focused on the family unit. Most societies, as they progress, inevitably abandon this model or heavily reduce its importance, but it is a very major underpinning to the Abrahamic religions. Essentially, it is patriarchal and focused on the absolute divine right of the patriarch to do whatever he wants. The fact that the prohibitions in the Old Testament limiting the power of a patriarch are so weak attests to the fact of how much control a man might have over his family. This sort of tribalism, applied on a larger scale, is the root for racism and nationalism, as well as other evils. Its primary focus is simple: defining a group so the members know whom they should include or exclude. Culture is another form of in-group/out-group xenophobia, which is why liberals tend to embrace multiculturalism, while conservatives tend to be far less adventurous.

          As far as Sharia goes, it has parallels in Judaism and Christianity (and, indeed, parallel groups attempting to practice similar systems) because it is based on the concept of the supposed authority of the patriarch. This is something which supports not just calcified familial systems, including caste systems, but also feudal monarchies (the concept of divine right having been directly invoked by European kings). In this case, honour and prestige become huge factors -- anyone who has read about the Victorian high society would realize that, while there wasn't a whole lot that was illegal for upper-class people, but that they relied so much on being seen as "gentlemanly" and on being approved of by their peers that they were forced to hide any behaviour not condoned by their society. It's similar to the Inner Party of Nineteen Eighty-Four, with the proles being far more free (albeit while undergoing deprivation) than Party members.

          In the cases of feudal societies or societies transitioning out of feudalism, rising egalitarianism could compel the remnants of the feudal nobility/aristocracy or of the general elite class to struggle to maintain their illusion of control and authority -- for instance, through censorship, as in the case of Thailand. In other cases, religion can be used as a proxy in an attempt to bolster authority (which, in the Middle East, has been well-documented with Saddam Hussein's increasing fundamentalism and religious authoritarianism as his rule went on, likely as a cynical attempt to keep Iraqis under his thumb). Many dictators tend to be adaptive opportunists who will adopt a tool (like religion) if they need it to get into (or stay in) power. Another good example is Hitler's embrace of Catholicism (and acknowledgement of Lutheranism) during his rise to power, in an attempt to gain more followers and to turn a largely ethnic conflict into a religious conflict as well, with the simultaneous replacement of pre-existing religion in his inner circle with a home-grown cult, complete with mystic origins. The rub for Hitler was that too much alignment with Catholicism would put him into the classic conflict that had dominated Germany for centuries -- the authority of the Pope versus the
        • The problem... (Score:4, Informative)

          by interactive_civilian (205158) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `uromam'> on Monday January 30, 2012 @08:12PM (#38871683) Homepage Journal

          I live in Thailand, so I'm really getting a kick...

          mcgrew said...

          I'm pretty sure that in Thailand's case, it's not to keep people from saying bad things about the government, but to keep them from saying bad things about the king.

          The problem with this is that the government is treating criticism of the government as criticism of the King, so they use the lese majeste laws to stifle their opponents. It is my understanding that the King does not even agree with the lese majeste laws and has pardoned a good number of people who have been convicted under them. However, he tries to keep his hands off political things because that would (apparently) ruin the constitutional monarchy he is intent on having (which doesn't really exist, what with all of the corruption and coups and such). Also, he is really old and basically on death's doorstep, and so probably doesn't even have the capacity to say anything about these abuses now, or may not even be aware of them.

          So, instead the extremely corrupt and petty Thai government gets to have its way with these laws and use them to stifle any criticism of government they choose.

          The King of Thailand is actually quite a decent guy who has done a lot of good things over his reign. The people love him, and with good reason. However he doesn't actually rule the country (though he easily could, and the people would support him), so the government has its own way and he keeps his hands off. And the Thai people get to suffer for it (unless they have the money to pay their way out of any trouble).

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Wow, that's sad. It appears that politically, things have deteriorated quite a bit in the last 40 years. Sad also to hear that your king is not in the best of health, when I was there folks told me of the good he'd done.

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          What weirds me out is their fascination with teaching the royalty through song and dance numbers.

    • Re:Moron (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mistlefoot (636417) on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:51AM (#38865333)
      Yes. These foreign governments that cannot take critisism or understand jokes are ridiculous.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2093796/British-tourists-arrested-America-terror-charges-Twitter-jokes.html
      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        That's because their culture is different, they still have a king. Still, it's almost human nature of the king to do so, it's the society beneath him that's allowing him the power. If somebody walked into your home, a stranger, but a kinsman, and started talking shit about you, your family, and your home, how would you react?

        As for me, I'd give you an extended tour of my ceiling. The trick of course is, don't walk in the front door and the situation will never happen. So, either the people living there

      • by BenJury (977929)
        I guess the difference is the US finds it far more sporting to simply read your tweets and prosecute* you for them, rather than not letting you say them in the first place. Although its interesting to see exactly the lengths they go to!

        * Or deported in this case.
    • sometimes, my eyesight is not so sharp (happens as you get older). I saw the heading as saying:

      "The Gov't Welcomes Twitter's Censorship Plans"

      and I thought to myself, 'yes, seems like something that they'd approve of and desire."

      oh, its not THE (US, in my case) gov?

      but it parsed the same way and the semantic validator said 'yes, accept'.

      what can I say?

      this is a statement about the world, today. its not about siam. now, 'out out out!'

  • This sounds like they are taking the wrong lessons from Red China. Younger people who come to the US for school from China never heard of Tienanmen Square! Thai people seem more informed, but not for long.

    • It has a different name there. something along the lines of "The date it happened-Riots" and isn't seen in the same light

      • by Suki I (1546431)

        It has a different name there. something along the lines of "The date it happened-Riots" and isn't seen in the same light

        Not from the people I meet. It is totally unknown.

      • by doconnor (134648)

        It's called "The June Fourth Incident" after the May Fourth Movement which was a protest in Tiananmen Square in 1919 that eventually lead to Chinese Communism.

        There have been lots of protests in Tiananmen Square and lots of repression of protestors over its centuries of existence. We in the west generally only know about the latest one.

    • by jimmetry (1801872)
      Not in my experience. Most of the people I've known from China did already knew about it before they came here.
  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:26AM (#38865027) Journal

    *GASP* No way!

    • Horses Eat Hay!

      Were the headline: "Thailand Rejects Twitter's Censorship Plans", that would be news.

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Horses Eat Hay!

        Were the headline: "Thailand Rejects Twitter's Censorship Plans", that would be news.

        Twitter's plan of censorship, not to redact anything, was rejected by the Thai Government.

  • Twitter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:31AM (#38865087) Homepage

    Spinless bastards for even building this functionality.
    The correct response is "HTTPS everywhere; suck it up despots".

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      *Spineless. Deinitly not spin-less. No siree. Lots of spin.

    • So, you use HTTPS to fight tyranny and you want freedom of speech .... Hmmmmm?
      - Worse than a terrorist!
      - Worse than a peado.
      - It's P2P downloading film and song villain!

      Whoosh..... ---- ..... DMCA-MAN to the unrescue!!!
      What wrapper of hidden agenda will use to foil a country's right to speak out against oppression DMCA-MAN?
      What's that? - People have been downloading turd throwaway standards lowering pop-song?!?! This has cost the corporations over a billion billion billion dollars in sales?!?!
      HT
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      The problem is that they have offices in many countries which makes them liable.

    • To which Thailand replies 'DNS lookups blocked and traffic dropped by IP address! No advertising money for you!'
    • by datsa (1951424)
      Methinks you have too much faith in https encryption...
    • You're not thinking this through.  How, exactly, would that help?

      Think about it...the problem isn't that they're sniffing traffic.  They're just looking at Tweets and not liking some of them.  They can disapprove while reading them via https just as easily as not.

      I do agree that it's spineless of US companies to give in on this.
  • What does it say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:38AM (#38865187)
    That all of these technological marvels were initially used as a means to communicate during times of unrest and now they themselves are becoming instruments and willing participants in the suppression of insurrection and communication that has not been sanitized. This is the type of behavior that I expect from the likes of GE, Novatris, and ADM, but when supposed open web companies like Twitter start actively colluding with oppressive regimes it does not bode well for humanity as a species.
  • Travel Alert... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khr (708262) <kevinrubin@gmail.com> on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:41AM (#38865213) Homepage

    The government previously declared that Facebook users worldwide 'liking' a lese majeste Facebook link would also be prosecuted

    Yikes! I haven't knowingly liked any lese majeste posts or links, but you never know... I guess I'd better make sure none of my international travels involve a stopover at the airport in Bangkok, I'd hate to get a surprise arrest for something like that...

    • Re:Travel Alert... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Asic Eng (193332) on Monday January 30, 2012 @12:07PM (#38865523)

      This is why real name policies are evil. Some people seem to believe they increase civility (though Usenet had a real name policy from the start, and it never had that effect), but even if that were true it would not compensate for the loss of freedom. Sure theoretically we could use other services, but social networks only work as long as they are popular, so for practical purposes we are stuck with just a few options.

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Unless you can read thai I'm pretty sure you're in the clear.

      • by khr (708262)

        Unless you can read thai I'm pretty sure you're in the clear.

        Well, that could be a problem... Not reading Thai means I could've liked something accidentally and not had a clue what it was...

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot.uberm00@net> on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:43AM (#38865229) Homepage Journal

    Forgive me if I don't understand what's happening here, and I may not, but from what I've read:

    - Twitter gives governments the right to block Tweets from appearing in their country.

    And that's it. They don't actually search for specific content, like YouTube does on video uploads. So wouldn't it ultimately be up to the Thai government to find these Tweets anyway? In which case, how is this in any way tied with Twitter, other than that they're blocking the Tweets from appearing to Thai residents (possibly allowing them not to get arrested)? Furthermore, Twitter provides a very easy workaround in that you can override their detection of your country and set it to something else (like, say, the US), and be able to see the "censored" Tweets.

    Yes, what they're doing is unethical, but Twitter isn't doing much to contribute here.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Twitter is contributing by helping them to censor. The right thing to do is simply not do business in those countries where censorship is required.

      • Twitter is contributing by helping them to censor. The right thing to do is simply not do business in those countries where censorship is required.

        The right thing for Twitter to do is whatever makes them the most money. As long as we live in capitalism, we shouldn't expect anything better.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          So you're saying it's not the right thing for them to do after all but only the Capitalist thing to do?

        • there's the corporate thing for twitter to do (you confuse that with 'right thing to do'); and then there's the ethical thing to do.

          lets keep it like that, ok? corporations seeking to max their profits is corporatism. its not 'right' that they do this, and as you were iferring, corps are not ethical. by definition!

          that, right there, is the problem.

          can't fully blame twitter. we have to blame our whole system. in fact, our whole system IS wrong and to blame. twitter, google and the rest are just playahs

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Twitter certainly has the right to do it, but to have a right to do something is not the same as being right in doing it. They have the right, but they're wrong in exercising that right.

      • by TheSpoom (715771)

        Perhaps. But then, perhaps an all or nothing approach would harm more than it would help here. Twitter has been used in revolutions, after all; by maintaining enough diplomatic relations with a government, perhaps Twitter is staving off the country from going completely dark to the global web, as they may do if nobody plays along (at least on the surface) with their crazy censorship rules. If we can keep a discussion going, perhaps we can convince them otherwise.

        Or maybe I'm just naive. One just has to

      • by Forbman (794277)

        The odd effect of that, though, is...the censors win by default.

      • by DM9290 (797337)

        Twitter is contributing by helping them to censor. The right thing to do is simply not do business in those countries where censorship is required.

        The right thing to do would be for the US government to ban all business in those countries where censorship is required, the same way the USA treats Cuba.

        Individual firms can not be expected to take ethical stands except by accident. They have a duty to shareholders to pursue maximum shareholder value.

  • State of Affairs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TempusMagus (723668) * on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:48AM (#38865297) Homepage Journal
    First off I'd like to suggest that anyone with even the smallest passing interest in this read these series of articles here: http://www.zenjournalist.com/download-thaistory-123/ [zenjournalist.com] it is without a doubt the best resource ever published in terms of providing context on the situation. As someone with a personal interest in this (my wife and her family are Thai) I will say that the entire thing is a disgusting mess and has nothing to do with HRH King Bhumibol directly. The Lese Majeste laws are used by Bangkok elites to quell dissent. Pure and simple. If anything it degrades the monarchy more than anything since it turns the kings "face" into a symbol of oppression. This is veering the country into a dangerous direction since it is the monarchy who was perceived (perhaps wrongly) as a moderating force between the Bangkok elites and the more agrarian populace (who are mad to be middle class). The smallest shift from perceiving the monarchy as a force of moderation to one of oppression in the country is something that the country won't long tolerate. Even with national censorship, don't think for a second it will have a lasting effect - facts that range from the socially important (like the Queen's tacit support of yellow-shirt violence) to the sordid (like the prince's sexual escapades) still get talked about amongst friends. Young Thais are connected internationally and they are interested in this material no matter their political leanings. What complicates it further is the fact that the military's ranks are now filled with many red shirt supporters even though the top brass supports the elites using the king as a figurehead. There is not a lot that outsiders can do. You can boycott thailand as a tourist destination or write letters to the companies who manufacture there letting them know that you are not pleased that they financial support such a regime (which they do).
  • There's been censorship everywhere since a long time.
    The stronger always wins and talks/broadcasts/publishes/deletes/censors.
    The weaker dies.
    That's it.

  • Face it. censorship works. Just see comments above.
    Ever noticed how many people obfuscate the words *fuck* and *shit* even here on slashdot?

    Censorship is in your heads already.
    • There is a difference between profanity and censorship (as it applies to this story). Saying F**K rather than fuck isn't censorship because everyone knows what it means. Your brain fills in the rest. It doesn't kill the meaning if I say my F**king boss is going to F**king kill me if I mess up this report compared to my fucking boss is going to fucking kill me if I mess up this report.

      Censorship is preventing the ideas from spreading. Using stars or euphemisms for profanity isn't censorship because the m
      • by Longjmp (632577)
        Sorry to disagree.
        While you are somewhat right concerning this story, as for ideas, I agree.
        However, if you want to use explicit language, i.e., fuck, use it. If you don't want to, use more elaborate wordings.
        There's no reason to hide profanity if you want to use it (personally, I'd object though).
        My point is, people are used to get "beeped" if they use profane words. Thus they don't use it in postings which can be read by everyone else, i.e. the public.
        So they censor themselves, even before "someone"
  • While everyone is saying how horrible this is, I say it is a GOOD THING, but not because I like censorship. Just like SOPA, these sorts of behaviors provide a HUGE competitive advantage to networks that can set themselves up to enable truly free communications. As things get worse, countries and areas that provide safe havens for real communication can also make a killing (just like some foreign banks do in aiding tax evasion). What someone needs to do is start building those services....
  • I hear that Bhumibol Adulyadej is an avid rusty trombone performer and eagerly felching sailors at any given opportunity. True story! ... this isn't my best trolling but it should be enough to make it advisable to stay away from Thailand. Also, if you don't recognize those terms, don't look them up on wikipedia or urbandictionary. Save your rosy-cheeked innocence and run!
    • I heard that he's been a gentle and considerate lover to practically every in animate object in Thailand. Rumour has it that the entire Thai government recharge his kingly powers of love by performing a solemn bukake ceremony, from which the king emerges with sticky eyebrows and a potent set of nuts. All heil King Bumball! May his glorious regime persist long after his syphilis wracked cock finally falls off.He is a rapist.

  • Army Commander, whose backing is critical to the government's stability.

    When your stability is dependent on the backing of the Army Commander, your government is not stable in any way. History has shown that over, and over.

  • I thought all this globalization was a way for the US to entice the people of other nations to freedom and democracy. I guess since this hasn't really come to pass (especially in China) the US has decided that if you can't beat em, join em.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Twitter should refuse to do business in totalitarian regimes. The more obviously things are suppressed the more people will ask...

    Why a 61 year-old grandfather should be sentenced for 20 years in Thailand's infamous jails for 4 alleged SMS messages about democracy. (he's also been denied treatment for cancer - an expected death sentence). http://gjbkkblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/20-years-sentence-for-sending-sms/ [wordpress.com]

    Why they use army snipers to murder unarmed democracy protesters taking refuge in temples an

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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