NBTC orders Facebook to block web pages or face its wrath

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NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) Secretary-General Takorn Tantasit has given Facebook an ultimatum to block 131 pages or face the full wrath of Thai law.

The NBTC, Digital Economy Ministry and Technology Crime Suppression Division wants Facebook to remove 131 pages out of a list of 600 URLs that has been approved by a court order. Google and YouTube have complied with that order and removed 469 pages, it has been reported.

Takorn in a thinly veiled threat said that Facebook has until 10:00 on May 16 to comply, or it will be summoned and authorities will ensure that Thai law is fully enforced.

Earlier, Facebook removed a post by republican dissident Somsak Jeamteerasakul, sending him a letter quoting the court order that was widely circulated on social media. The court found that Somsak had breached Computer Crime Act Section 14(3) in its ruling. 14(3) refers to the crime “that involves import to a computer system of any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom’s security under the Criminal Code,” punishable by up to five years in jail.

On April 12, the Digital Economy Ministry ordered every Thai citizen not to follow, contact, share or engage with Somsak and two other republicans. Doing so, even unintentionally, would be illegal under the Computer Crime Act.

About that 3BB outage …

Meanwhile, following up on last weekend’s mysterious internet outage, internet service provider 3BB has apologized to its subscribers and offered to make it up to them by giving them one month of free IPTV access on its own OTT platform.

A 3BB letter blamed the outage on Google maintenance. NBTC Sec-Gen Takorn approved the apology and said that 3BB could go ahead immediately with the offer. This is in stark contrast to the time when Dtac had a four-hour network outage in 2010 due to a HLR migration mishap. The NBTC did not accept then CEO Jon Eddy Abdullah’s explanation at face value – it demanded access to logs and prohibited any further network maintenance without permission.

The lack of any investigation into the 3BB outage, the way the NBTC gladly accepted the excuse and how it turned into a promotion for 3BB’s OTT video package – as well as Takorn threatening Facebook to comply with the court order and his throwaway comments that Google and YouTube have already complied – have led many to wonder if the outage was a test run to prove that they can and will block Google, in the same way that the junta ordered Facebook to be blocked in 2014 and details only emerged later when Telenor issued a statement.

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