Thailand, which regularly cracks down on Internet content deemed critical of its revered monarchy, on Monday welcomed social media giant Twitter’s controversial new censorship policy.
The San Francisco-based networking website announced last week that it can now block tweets on a country-by-country basis if legally required, enraging many users, but Thailand said it supported the move.
“It’s a good idea that Twitter has this policy to take care and prevent its users from violatingthe law, because freedom of expression must not violate other people’s rights or the laws in each country,” Thai Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap said.
“The ICT ministry will continue to ensure no person or group uses social networks to violatethe law. I agree with Twitter’s new policy but we will not be involved with Twitter’s censorship.”
The Thai government has removed tens of thousands of web pages in recent years becausethey were considered insulting tothe royal family, an extremely sensitive subject inthe politically-divided country.
A boom in online discussion on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter is fuelling political debate and challenging Thailand’s long-standing taboo against openly discussingthe royal family.
In November, Thailand asked Facebook to delete more than 10,000 pages of content containing images or text deemed offensive to the monarchy.
Anyone convicted in Thailand of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent can been jailed for up to 15 years for each offense, and rights groups have expressed concern about a series of convictions under the tough rules.