Managing monarchy means more lese majeste repression

The crisis of last week surrounded angst regarding child-killer using Facebook to broadcast a live video showing him killing his baby daughter before taking his own life. There was justifiable consternation about the use made of Facebook.

But just a few days later, what’s the big issue for the military dictatorship and the firms running Thailand’s internet connections? Of course, it’s lese majeste.

The junta has forced local internet service providers (ISPs) to further action on lese majeste. A corporate group “has emailed an official request to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the company to block content on its web pages in Thailand that breaks the country’s strict lese majeste laws, as ordered by the Criminal Court.”

Thailand has some 41 million Facebook users, the largest social media network in the country, and that’s why Facebook is targeted.

The Criminal Court has reportedly “ordered some 6,900 web pages or websites to be shut down since 2015.”

The group emailing Zuckerberg is said to account for “95% of internet traffic in Thailand,” and includes companies such as “Advanced Wireless Network, DTAC TriNet, CS LoxInfo, CAT Telecom, TOT Plc, Symphony Communication, United Information Highway, Internet Thailand, KSC Commercial Internet and Jasmine Internet.”

Their pleading to Facebook seems to be about “around 600 pages, mostly on Facebook, that local ISPs cannot block because they are encrypted, with the host servers located abroad.” The email “lists the URLs of the Facebook pages and other pages that are deemed illegal in Thailand.”

As the report confirms, “[a]ll of the content in question either contains or promotes breaches of Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law.”

This emailed pleading is driven by the junta’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry having “ordered all ISPs and IIG to block illicit web pages and content deemed illegal by the court within the next seven days, or risk having their licences revoked.”

The junta is threatening profits in order to protect its king.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith “said he believed the 600 Facebook pages would be blocked soon.”

The junta is more worried now about lese majeste than it has been since its coup. That’s because it is unable to control the public’s “view” of the monarch. When the previous king was in hospital, his image was easily managed. That’s not the case for the erratic King Vajiralongkorn.

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