Junta ducks deadline to shut down Facebook but more lèse majesté pages are blocked

After threatening to shut down Facebook for not blocking 131 illegal pages, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) let the deadline pass after 34 were blocked.  More than 6,000 Facebook pages have been already taken down, according the junta head.
 
On 16 May 2017, NBTC Secretary-General Takorn Tantasith told the media that the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDE) has already sent court orders to shut down 34 out of 131 illegal pages to Facebook. The remaining 97 are being speedily processed and it is expected the orders will be sent by the end of May.
 
According to BBC Thai, 30 percent of the 131 pages are considered a breach of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law. The rest include websites related to gambling, pornography and fraud.       
 
Takorn stated that Facebook is willing to shut down illegal pages as soon as they receive court orders. “Facebook has informed us that they are ready to cooperate in closing down these [illegal] pages in compliance with Thai legal procedures. But they said that the documents they had received are only the addresses of court orders so they have to wait for the official orders,” said Takorn.
 
Previously, the Thai Internet Service Provider Association (TIPSA) told the Bangkok Post that the junta has pressured them to immediately block access to Facebook for its refusal to remove illegal content.
 
“TIPSA said it could disconnect the content delivery network (CDN) originating Facebook's server if the social media giant fails to meet Tuesday's 10 am deadline set by the government to remove illicit URLs or posts from its site,” reported Bangkok Post.
 
However, Facebook is at present available as normal.
 
Takorn added that the NBTC has two plans to combat illegal webpages in the future. First, they will send court orders to Facebook asking them to remove them from the site. Second, they will directly contact TIPSA, who has the ability to limit access to all online content in Thailand.   
 
On the same day, the junta head Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha told the media that Facebook has recently become more cooperative in taking down illegal content, adding that over 6,900 URLs have already been removed from Facebook.
 
Prayut added that the junta, however, faces a problem since illegal pages continue to re-emerge after being taken down so the MED has to ask for court orders over and over again. 
 
“When [illegal pages] are closed down, they’ll soon be reopened. So we need new court orders to close them down again. That’s just the way it is,” said Gen Prayut. 
 
 
 
 
Photo from Getty Imge