Thailand Creates Panel to Censor Online Adult Sites

Rhett Pardon
BANGKOK — Thailand, the top-five producer of online adult websites, has set up a national committee to regulate Internet content to ensure a “safe and creative media.”

The new controls, targeting content that is “inappropriate for young people,” also affect TV, film and magazines.

Deputy Prime Minister Paiboon Wattanasiritham will chair the panel, which had its first meeting Friday. The committee also consists of representatives from government ministries as well as operators of search engine websites such as Google, MSN and Truehits.

Wattanasiritham said one of the first issues the committee will look into is trying to stop websites hosting advertisements for 900 telephone services.

“The services use sexually alluring advertisements such as, ‘call this number to exchange of sexual experiences,’ or ‘to find students working on the side for commercial sex call here,” Wattanasiritham said. “The messages are posted openly on the websites as if the laws do not exist.”

Wattanasiritham said there are nearly 500,000 web pages in Thailand that are sexually seductive, and 250 websites showing nude video clips of teenagers.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission on Thursday launched a new website to host a Thai NGO-led petition against censorship of the Internet in Thailand.

The petition, set up in January by Freedom Against Censorship Thailand, calls for an end to unmonitored censorship of websites in Thailand.

That Bangkok-based group estimated that more than 32,500 websites are being blocked by the police and another 13,500 by the Information and Communications Technology Ministry.

Thailand was named the top-five producer of adult sites, with Germany, the U.K., the U.S. and Australia topping the list, according to Thai ministry officials.