Several times over the last month there have been stories about the military dictatorship trying to convince international social media companies to help it censor Thais (here and here). The junta bleated about lese majeste and national security (the difference between the two areas seems to have been extinguished by the junta).
The dunces who run the country drew on their own experience in office and illegal business as they sought to bribe the companies. We posted that Police Major-General Pisit Pao-in, chairman of a sub-committee on online media “reform” in the junta’s National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) was leading the gang seeking to bribe international social media corporations. He “suggested” that the junta was offering “a favourable tax rate on advertising revenues in exchange for [company] compliance with government requests [for censorship].”
Bribery may be a standard work practice in the police, but (probably criminal) bribery of international companies for the monarchy is a new twist on ultra-royalism.
Facebook and Google had all been called in. The missing social media firm was the Japanese company operating LINE Thailand. However, that is about to change as a report at The Nation states that LINE “has agreed to meet the Social Media Reform panel to discuss screening out ‘inappropriate content’.” The company is to meet the dictatorship’s bribery gang next Wednesday.
The report states that this “move is an attempt by the subcommittee to secure cooperation from the three largest social media platforms … [on] lese majeste restrictions and national security.” Pisit claims that he will have all three in line “by the end of March.”
Given the penchant of the military thugs for lies, no one could believe Pisit when he declares that “the government [the military junta] would not censor online content but it would regulate online content.” The junta craves stronger censorship. It is part of the cultural make-up for Thailand’s officials. Control, hierarchy and repression are their standard practices.