• Thursday, April 05, 2007

    YouTube gone....

    It's official, YouTube is banned in Thailand and it's caused quite a stir.

    According to the BBC:

    the site was banned after a 44-second film showing graffiti over the king's face was aired.

    King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 79, is revered and it is forbidden to insult him.

    The minister said a ban came after the Thai government asked YouTube's owner Google to remove it and they declined.

    The contentious film also shows feet being placed over the king's face - an offensive act to Thais, who consider feet dirty.

    Anyone who knows anything about Thailand will be aware of how seriously something like this will be taken here but to ban the whole YouTube site seems a tad excessive. Opinion is mixed. Matt makes a good argument against the banning here, some others are in favour of the banning including newbie Andrew here.

    I fully appreciate why the authorities are offended by such a posting and I'm sure within a few days there will be protests outside the US embassy demanding that YouTube capitulates. However, how can this level of censorship ever be justified in a country that claims democratic status and is proud of its freedom of speech?

    The internet is a wonderful thing but with all the good that comes from the internet there's a negative side. People from around the world can anonymously express their opinions to a potential audience of hundreds of millions, as should be their right, and some of those opinions will be offensive to many. But isn't that a price worth paying to keep the freedom of the internet intact?

    It's no coincidence that the countries around the world that try to control internet content most are generally the countries who have the most to hide. Just imagine what stories would come to light if there was freedom of access to the internet in China and Burma, and potentially what atrocities could be prevented through increased exposure on the internet. Does Thailand really want to be lumped together with these guys in terms of personal freedom? It hardly fits with the Amazing Thailand image that they like to sell to the world.

    Whilst this particular video, which I haven't seen and knew nothing about until YouTube got banned, sounds fairly pointless and plainly offensive to someone who isn't in a position to retaliate it does raise the question of why. Why did he/she do it? My guess is that it is some kind of reaction to the recent jailing of a Swiss man to 10 years in prison for spraying paint on a picture of the King. As yet the only thing known about the poster is that he/she is registered in the US.

    So, what will happen? Will the people of Thailand be denied access to YouTube indefinitely? Will Google, owners of YouTube, agree to drop the video? Personally I think the latter. Despite Google stating clearly that they could see nothing offensive in the video in question I feel sure that within a short period of time YouTube will once again be available in Thailand.

    YouTube gone....

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    Anonymous lillian said...

    Hi.. got back this morning and can't believe they have banned You Tube. How ANNOYING !!!!

    11:34 am  

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