Thailand backs off threat to block Facebook over content

Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission Secretary-General Takorn Tantasith talks to reporters in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Thailand has backed off a threat to block Facebook in the country, instead serving the social media site with court orders to remove content that the government deems illegal. Thailand made the threat last week as it wanted Facebook to block content it deems a threat to national security or in violation of the country's lese majeste law, which makes insults to the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission Secretary-General Takorn Tantasith talks to reporters in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Thailand has backed off a threat to block Facebook in the country, instead serving the social media site with court orders to remove content that the government deems illegal. Thailand made the threat last week as it wanted Facebook to block content it deems a threat to national security or in violation of the country's lese majeste law, which makes insults to the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

BANGKOK — Thailand backed off a threat to block Facebook on Tuesday, instead providing the social media site with court orders to remove content that the government deems illegal.

Thailand made the threat last week as it wanted Facebook to block more than 130 posts it considers a threat to national security or in violation of the country's lese majeste law, which makes insults to the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Thailand's military government has made prosecuting royal insults a priority since seizing power in a coup three years ago.

Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of Thailand's broadcast regulator, said Facebook had requested the court orders before it would take action but he expected the social media giant would comply with the government's demands.

"Facebook has already responded that it will comply when we have court orders," Takorn told reporters.

Emails and calls seeking confirmation from Facebook were not immediately returned.

Last week, the regulator demanded that Facebook remove more than 130 posts by Tuesday or face legal action that could shut down the site. In a change of tactic, Takorn said that Thailand had forwarded 34 court orders to Facebook so far.

"The websites that need to be taken down are not only those that are a threat to stability but they also include other illegal websites such as porn and websites that support human-trafficking which take time to legally determine," Takorn said.

Reports about the Facebook restrictions were blocked on BBC World News in Thailand on Tuesday.

Thai authorities try to take pre-emptive actions against material they consider illegal, having local internet service providers block access or reaching agreements with some online services such as YouTube to bar access to certain material in Thailand.

Much of that is content deemed in violation of the country's lese majeste law, the harshest in the world. The military government has charged more than 100 people with such offenses since the coup and handed down record sentences. Many of those cases have been based on internet postings or even private messages exchanged on Facebook.

Last month, Thai authorities declared it illegal to exchange information on the internet with three prominent government critics who often write about the country's monarchy.

Facebook, which is blocked in a number of authoritarian countries such as North Korea, has said it relies on local governments to notify the site of information it deems illegal.

"If, after careful legal review, we find that the content is illegal under local law we restrict it as appropriate and report the restriction in our Government Request Report," Facebook has said in past statements outlining its policy.

Must Read

Thailand hands out prenatal vitamins for Valentine's Day

Feb 14, 2017

Just in time for Valentine's Day, the Thai government is handing out pills it calls "very magical...

Japan's emperor pays respects to Thailand's late king

Mar 5, 2017

Japanese Emperor Akihito has paid his respects to the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, arriving...

Surgeons remove 915 coins swallowed by Thai sea turtle

Mar 6, 2017

Tossing coins in a fountain for luck is a popular superstition, but a similar belief brought misery...

Sea turtle flaps flippers in 1st rehab swim after surgery

Mar 10, 2017

Bank the green sea turtle flapped her flippers with vigor in her first swim after a life-saving...

Thai police arrest Japanese woman wanted for pyramid scheme

Apr 5, 2017

Thai police say they have arrested a Japanese woman wanted for allegedly running a...

People also read these

Thailand hands out prenatal vitamins for Valentine's Day

Feb 14, 2017

Just in time for Valentine's Day, the Thai government is handing out pills it calls "very magical...

Head of US Pacific Command urges democracy in Thailand

Feb 14, 2017

The highest-ranking U.S. military official to visit Thailand since a 2014 coup urged the country to...

Thai gov't panel approves coal plant in popular tourist area

Feb 17, 2017

Thailand's prime minister says a government committee has approved construction of an 800-megawatt...

Thailand seizes 422 pieces of smuggled elephant tusks

Mar 7, 2017

Thai authorities have seized 422 pieces of elephant tusks and arrested a Gambian man suspected of...

Thailand's coin-eating turtle unconscious after 2nd surgery

Mar 21, 2017

A Thai veterinarian says a 25-year-old sea turtle has slipped into a coma two weeks after it had...

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH