Thailand Prime Minister Vows to Block Porn

BANGKOK — The Prime Minister of Thailand has made a big claim: He will seal his country off entirely from foreign porn sites.

How Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra plans to do this is unknown, but his minister of social development and human services, Watana Muangsook, told local press Monday he had been instructed by Shinawatra to find the means to do so by the end of the year.

Muangsook said he had scheduled a meeting for Nov. 30 with several Internet “experts,” including the country’s Information and Communications Technology Ministry, to begin planning the nationwide block.

Currently about 800,000 foreign websites are available in Thailand, Muangsook said, with one-third considered pornographic by government standards.

Shinawatra’s latest proclamation comes during considerable debate in Thailand as to whether pornography should be deemed illegal in the country, a legal maelstrom launched on the heels of a report from an international child’s rights group based in Bangkok that ranked Thailand as one of the world’s top producers of free porn sites.

“Of [online pornographic] material, 55 percent is reported to be generated from the U.S. and 23 percent from Russia,” said the November report from the End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) organization. “Most ‘free to view’ sites were traced to ISPs in Russia, the U.S., Spain, Thailand, Japan and the Republic of Korea.”

The ECPAT has called on Thailand to self-regulate its ISPs.