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ASIA >Thailand ‘has no plan’ to suspend Facebook

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Thailand has no immediate plan to block access to Facebook, the telecoms regulator said yesterday, as it expects the social media giant to comply with court orders for the removal of content deemed to threaten national security.

In a move to censor criticism in the junta-run country, the telecoms regulator had set Facebook a May 16 deadline to take down 131 web addresses with content it saw as threatening security or violating strict lese majeste laws. 

Last week’s threat prompted a flurry of concern in the Southeast Asian country - one of Asia’s most active on Facebook - that the site would be blocked.

However, there would be no immediate measures to block Facebook, Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of Thailand’s telecoms commission, told reporters, adding that bureaucracy had held up the process of removing the 131 impugned content items.

“We have the necessary documents from the court to block 34 URLs now,” Takorn said, following a visit to the head office of a grouping of internet providers in Thailand to check if Facebook had complied with the authorities’ removal request. 

“Facebook has cooperated well in terms of taking steps to block the URLs that we asked them to in the past,” he added.

“If they cooperate, then there will be 97 URLs left which we have asked the court to issue warrants to block.”
The head of the service providers’ association, which groups 19 landline and mobile ISPs and international gateway operators covering 90 per cent of Thailand, also told reporters there was no plan to block access yet.

“We haven’t discussed that action to shut down Facebook,”  said Morakot Kulthamyothin, president of the Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TISPA).

May/16/2017

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