WordPress blocked in Thailand as well

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?

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8 thoughts on “WordPress blocked in Thailand as well

  1. To make it clear, TOT blocks only its user.
    Thailand has many ISP, TOT is just the only one of them.

    CJ: I know it’s one ISP (I’ll make that clearer), but to outsiders it can almost be seen as a government-backed ban as TOT is under the supervision of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. Plus TOT is one of the largest ISPs in Thailand. That’s not a good combination to me.

  2. So you don’t have to keep on throwing TOT in one pot with Thailand, I’m in NE Thailand, using DTAC EDGE and have no problems accessing WordPress.



    CJ: Good to hear you have access. But that’s not what I meant. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough – I’m referring to that TOT is run under the supervision of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. It’s state-owned.

    I didn’t mean that WordPress is blocked in all of Thailand (unlike Turkey, where it is); I meant that because of those connections, it gives the appearance that the TOT-ban is government-backed, which is unacceptable for any country.

    If I’ve given the wrong impression, I apologise. That’s what I meant to be saying. And I’m not the only one saying it. DBTD has labelled it censorship and an attack on free speech.

  3. To my mind, you’ve gotten it exactly right. The reason people in Thailand still have access is that the government has not yet shut down those ISP’s access; it’s simply that the government isn’t perfectly efficient. We are still right to protest the government’s attempt at blockage and censorship of bloggers worldwide and repression of the freedom of speech of their own people. Let’s not take our eye off the real issue here, which is fascism versus your freedom to read, and publish, what you please.

    CJ: Thanks, raincoaster. That’s exactly what I meant. Censorship is censorship to me, no matter what form it’s taking. I’ll protest it wherever I see it; TOT is state-owned and it’s not acceptable. I think if we lose that sense of outrage and anger, then we’ve already surrendered what’s important, and what are we fighting for? As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Freedom is one thing — you have it all or you are not free.”

  4. Censorship is the first act of dictatorship, and that is really worrying.

    CJ: Too right, Irving. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  5. Unfortunately, where I live in the center of Phuket, TOT is the only option I have for internet access (their service center is at the end of my soi — and yet, it still took almost three months after placing my request for ADSL before they got around to hooking it up). I originally set up my blog (http://baanjochim.wordpress.com) when MICT blocked the Blogger domain. I really don’t want to switch back (I like WordPress much more than Blogger). I could access my blog as recently as this morning but now there’s no access at all…

    CJ: I’m very sorry to hear that, Mark. I think what’s happening in Thailand and Turkey is awful and should be decried by every person who values freedom. Particularly on 9/11.

    If you can reach my blog and some others then it looks like not all of WP is blocked to you, at least not yet. To gain access to your blog, I’d recommend using TOR or a proxy server . It’s ridiculous that you’re in the position to have to use them, but at least they should be able to get you to your blog.

    Other than that, only public pressure is going to change TOT’s decision. Hopefully you and others can raise your concerns and more people will find out. Otherwise I think it’s only going to get worse.

  6. With Thailand’s new Cyber Law now in effect, using a proxy server can now land you in prison. (Full English translation here: http://www.prachatai.com/english/news.php?id=117) And yet, there are constant articles in the Thai press praising the current level of democracy in our country. It will be interesting to see if the censorship issue is addressed when we vote on the new constitution in December…

    CJ: Well, I guess a proxy server is out then. No proxy is 100% anonymous in any event, but it’s an incredible situation Thailand is creating. If they’re saying we’ll allow you to use this website, but not that one, that’s little different to state-sponsored media.

    If you have a friend overseas or with a different ISP, you could email them your blog posts and get them to post them for you. Other than that you might be stuck, which is a shame – it’s now that we need to hear the voices of Thai and Turkish bloggers more than ever.

  7. There seems to be another problem with blogs getting blocked from Thailand. Any news on Blogspot getting banned by TOT or DTAC?

    CJ: No, I haven’t heard anything about Blogspot being blocked, just WordPress. I did a Google search and checked with a few sites; I can’t find anything. It’s definitely blocked for you?

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