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Ban on YouTube lifted after deal

Website to block clips offensive to Thais or that break Thai law

Published on August 31, 2007

The government yesterday lifted its ban on the YouTube website after the site's management agreed to block any video clips deemed offensive to Thai people or those that violate Thai law.

Information and Com-munications Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookai-yaudom said local Internet surfers would now be able to access the YouTube site, which has been banned since April 3.

This follows an agreement between the Ministry of ICT and YouTube that the site would curb any clips which have contents considered an affront to Thai people or those that violate the Kingdom's laws.

Sitthichai said YouTube had just finished creating a program that would block sensitive video clips from being accessed from Thai Internet service providers (ISPs).

Earlier this year, the Ministry of ICT tried to persuade the YouTube management into removing several video clips that mocked the Thai monarchy. However, the website insisted on keeping those clips, arguing that its homepage was a global forum of freedom of expression.

YouTube, now controlled by Google, allows people to post and share video clips, and is a highly popular website.

The controversy sparked off earlier this year when a person from the US, using the pseudonym "Paddidda", posted several video clips insulting the Thai monarchy. This happened when the political situation in Thailand was tense, with an undercurrent of confrontation between supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and those who backed the military regime.

After a series of futile negotiations with YouTube to withdraw the clips, the Ministry of ICT decided to ban the site altogether, prompting accusations from the international media that the military regime was taking Thailand to times past with stringent censorship laws.

It was not until May 10 that 'Paddidda' issued an apology through YouTube. At that time there were reports that the Ministry of ICT would soon lift the ban, but it was not until YouTube had come up with software to block provocative clips, that the ministry agreed to finally make the site available in Thailand.

Sitthichai said yesterday the ministry had nothing to do with the apologies to the Thai King and Thai people loaded onto the YouTube website.

"YouTube has taken care of the matter by itself," he said.

On May 10, 'Silpajarun', a Thai woman, assisted 'Paddidda' by posting a Thai version of the apology. 'Silpajarun' was quick to add that she was in no way related to 'Paddidda'.  [See the clip from Silpajarun]

'Paddidda', a Thaksin fan, gave political motivation as the reason for her offensive videos. 'Silpajarun' quoted 'Paddidda' as saying: "I will work for Thaksin no more. Yes, I might have achieved nothing, but it is better than to be hated forever."

The YouTube account in the name of 'Paddidda' and the disrespectful videos have been deleted from the website.

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