Internet Filtering gets Worse in Thailand

He's not a very popular man, Abhisit Vejjajiva - there is a strong drive for him to resign but he's not going quietly as they never seem to do. Alongside the physical protests and demonstrations in Thailand there is another battle taking place in Cyberspace. Dictatorships used to have it easy, rounding up meetings of protesters and dissidents was much easier when they had to meet to communicate. Not so with the internet, where populist movements can meet online, share information and even plan demonstrations. What's worse they can share information with the rest of the world even when it differs from the Government line.

It's certainly building up a pace in Thailand, the deputy prime minister put authorized another 36 web sites to be blocked in Early April, here's a copy of the letter and the web sites - Latest Thai Web Sites Blocked. But I'm afraid that's a small drop in the ocean compared to what they have already blocked, estimated at about 65000 sites so far.

It's all that The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) seem to do now, censor the internet. Doesn't really go with the title but they are reportedly very, very busy in the censorship line. Any social media site is vulnerable - facebook, twitter, flicker to name but a few,

As you can see there not terribly keen on youtube either.  You can read more about the escalating conflict here - Thailand Censorship

The websites normally blocked by the overactive censors in Thailand were quite a mix.  Surprisingly a lot of the censorship was directed at pornography but also if you said anything about the Thai monarchy which wasn't nice, you'd find yourself on the blacklist pretty quickly to.

Over the recent times the blocks have been mainly directed towards political sites especially toward the main protesters - the Red Shirts.

I think slowly though governments are realising they just can't win this cyber war by simply blocking website after website.  There are just too many ways around it, too many other places to meet online - the internet is just too big.   I know lots of people are surfing anonymously in Thailand using Identity Cloaker as we speak and they completely bypass all these restrictions and blocked sites and there are many other ways.  Ok many of them just signed up so they could watch Formula one or the BBC Iplayer, but the value of such software becomes apparent when your Government starts blocking thousands of other websites.

The problem is that as soon as Governments like Thailand and Iran realise they are powerless to keep blocking websites one by one like this then they will turn to a different form of censorship online.   The vast majority of oppressive Internet censors use a blacklist system, that is manually adding individual web sites, IP addresses or domains to a list of  "blocked web sites".   Even when done well it's pretty ineffective, due to all the ways to skip around these lists.

What I'm certain we'll see increasingly happening is what happens in North Korea, the countries will use 'whitelists' to control internet feeds into their countries.   This means instead of having lists of websites which are blocked by the ISPs and content filters, they will have a list of websites which are allowed  !   Each website would have to be approved before being allowed into the country, China are already looking at a system.   It is far more effective at blocking content across the internet, the technology is already available and worse still all the usual bypassing tricks using VPNs, proxies and relays don't work.

When you censor the internet using a Whitelist, you have to submit a request to get access to a site, not the other way around.   Of course this basically cripples the internet turning it into little more than a government controlled intranet which nobody will use.  It will happen though as more and more control freak governments realise the futility of trying to control access to the internet with little lists of blocked websites.

I do hope I'm wrong though !!!

By the way if anyone comes across any of Identity Cloakers IP addresses getting blocked in this latest purge - please let them know so they can rotate their server addresses (or post here and I'll tell them).   I believe they are all OK currently.