THAILAND: YouTube access to be restored

Information and Communications Technology minister says he wants less decision-making power to block websites like YouTube

Bangkok Post
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

By Komsan Tortermvasna

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom is seeking the revocation of a coup-makers' announcement that empowers him to close websites at will.

He wants the process to be handled by a court instead.

Mr Sitthichai also announced yesterday he will this week restore access to the immensely popular YouTube website. He had learned the webmaster would block Thai viewers from seeing some improper content.

Mr Sitthichai said he would ask the cabinet next week to move for the revocation of announcement No.5 of the Council for Democratic Reform, because it gave too much power to the ICT minister to order websites closed.

A law passed recently dealing with computer-related crime was the perfect replacement for the announcement, he said. The act was published in the Royal Gazette on June 18 and takes effect after 30 days. That would coincide with the process to revoke announcement No.5 by resolution of the National Legislative Assembly.

"I don't want the ICT minister to have too much decision-making power, especially when we'll soon have a new government," Mr Sitthichai said.

"Under the new law that governs electronic transactions an attempt to close a website needs to go through the courts."

He insisted he had closed only about 200 websites, most of them pornographic.

The Thaksin Shinawatra government had closed at least 10,000 websites, even though no law with similar power to announcement No.5 was in existence at the time, he said.