Friday, August 31, 2007

Thailand Lifts Youtube Ban

Thailand lifts YouTube ban

Thailand’s military-installed government has lifted its five-month ban on the video-sharing website YouTube, after the US-based internet company agreed to block videos deemed offensive to the Thai people or in violation of Thai law.

Sitthichai Pookaiyudom, the information and technology minister, told the Financial Times that YouTube had agreed to block any clips identified by the government as breaking Thai laws, including the country’s sweeping legislation prohibiting comments deemed offensive to the monarchy.

The minister said YouTube videos blocked in Thailand would remain accessible to Internet users abroad. “It would be like books,” he said. “Some books are banned for sale in Thailand, but you can buy them elsewhere.”

Thailand’s military government blocked domestic access to YouTube in April, after anonymous users posted videos mocking King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the 79-year-old monarch who is revered by many Thais as a semi-divine figure protecting the country.

In contrast to the British royal family, which is subjected to the relentless and lurid attention of the tabloid media, Thailand’s monarchy remains shielded from public scrutiny by strict lese majeste laws that make it a serious crime, potentially punishable by up to 15-years in prison, to say anything deemed offensive to the monarchy.

Public scrutiny? No. Public mockery yes. And unlike the British Royals they don't act like a bunch of buffoons.