There has been a lot of reports over the past two days about short links from twitter being redirected to the MICT website. Many people have been blaming the Thai government for censorship. But this is not entirely fair. MICT neither has the power nor technical ability to block links. First they have to seek a court order to block a website. Once they have done this they then need to contact the ISPs for their co-operation to block that website.
What seems to have happened today in the blocking of the shortlinks on Twitter is a technician at TrueOnline making a mistake. They were probably trying to block one website but didn’t realize that the domain name was a shortlink format used by thousands of people every day. So, instead of blocking one website they blocked thousands of websites. This has happened before and I am sure it will happen again.
I know that I said that it is not fair to blame the Thai government in censorship. But really, we should blame them and the institution for the “climate of fear” that has been created over the years. In particular with the passing of the Computer Crimes Act.
As a webmaster, I have to self-censor every day in what I say and also in moderating the comments of others on my blogs and forums. If I am not careful, I could face five years in a Thai prison. The same goes for the ISPs. They perform self-censorship as they face the same strict rules as us.
So, the next time you try to blame the government for censorship, think first whether it is truly fair. For example, it was widely reported that the book ‘The King Never Smiles” was banned in Thailand”. But I was told that this wasn’t actually mentioned in the Royal Gazette. So, when Asia Books said that the book was banned, what they really meant was that they didn’t dare sell it in their shops. The same went for the controversial issues of The Economist recently. These weren’t banned by the Thai government. It was self-censorship again with the distributors.