First WordPress.com was blocked in Turkey, now it seems like Thailand has followed suit. Reports have been coming in since August 22 that the WordPress.com domain has been blocked by the state-owned TOT telecommunications company, preventing their users from accessing all blogs hosted on WordPress.com.
The FACT (Freedom Against Censorship in Thailand) blog reports that “TOT is a Thai public company under the supervision of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. Its chairman of the board of directors is General Saprang Kalyanamitra, a member of Council for Democratic Reform who did the coup last year.” Thailand has a particularly bad record with online censorship; the Royal Thai Police has blocked approximately 32500 websites, and last year pages from BBC One, BBC Two, CNN and Yahoo! News were blocked as well.
This is getting very worrying. This is a state-owned company censoring what their users can see; it’s no different to media being owned by governments in China and North Korea. If you add Pakistan’s ban on Blogspot and the Great Firewall of China as well, that’s four major countries blocking Western media, and three of those countries are supposed to be allies. I’m starting to wonder if there’s more of a political game going on here than we thought. Internations Musings compared the ban in Turkey to a fatwa rather than a court decision, and if you think of Kareem’s imprisonment as well, it’s very worrying.
So how do we respond? FACT has an online petition, and another against censorship in Thailand; you might want to stop by and sign both. In the end this is something only the folks at WordPress can sort out, but it’s left bloggers in Turkey and now some in Thailand stranded and we can’t just ignore that.
Perhaps devblog’s idea to use a blog outside of WP.com encouraging bloggers to voice their concerns is a good idea. Add instructions for how to access their blogs through TOR and at least we’d be doing something productive. Any other ideas?