YouTube : ban again, new filter system and a threat

Here we go again… Since a few weeks, Internet users in Thailand complain a lot : they experience several problems to access YouTube, to watch some videos etc.

It’s so big that the forum ThaiVisa has created a pinned topic ! There are obviously many issues… interlinked (ban on the Thai side, technical problems to implement the ban system, ban on YouTube side with a filter system etc.).

So let’s summarize.

APRIL 2007
The Junta bans the access to YouTube. The whole website. Reason ? A few videos offensive to the King. I saw those videos… they were obviously made by a teenager and were more “stupid” than political. Anyway. Uproar everywhere. But the thai authorities do not care. At all. The IT Minister is a clown (read here), and doesn’t care neither.

AUGUST 2007
After negociations, the ban is officially lifted. Not too fast. YouTube has agreed to create a filter system.

Depending on the location of the IP address of viewers, YouTube can ban some videos (and displaying a message “This video is not longer available”.) I’m the first to talk about this filter system (read here).

The people seem to forget. The controversy dies.

APRIL 2008
Meanwhile, some new YouTube posters (thais and probably located in Thailand) have sent very, extremely offensive videos for the thai monarchy, and highly political.

http://uk.youtube.com/profile?user=15yearsprison

YouTube is slow to react. But eventually suspends the account. The individual wants apparently to increase his exposure and to avoid YouTube filter system. Therefore, he creates… a blog ! To keep the videos alive and to comment on them.

http://www.15yearsprison.blogspot.com

MAY 2008
First official alert. 15yearsprison is on the list of 29 websites accused of lese-majeste by the Democrat Party. The individual creates then a new account http://uk.youtube.com/user/StopLeseMajeste

And he continues to post highly charged videos… [UPDATE : the last URL is now banned, on the thai side, by some thai ISP]

JUNE 2008
The videos are banned with a new filter system. The message is now “This video has been removed due to term of use violation” (if you are connected from Thailand). But are still available from outside the country.

I repeat the videos are extremely offensive, but also (and that’s the big difference with april 2007 with the first “idiotic” videos) political.

The guy is clearly on a crusade against the thai monarchy and the whole thai political system.

And it’s much more difficult to deal with (as far as western internet companies are concerned).

I start to believe that the aim of 15yearsprison alias Stoplesemajeste is to provoke the thai authorities.

My point : his blog could be to banned. And if Blogger.com doesn’t have a filter system like YouTube, I think Bangkok wouldn’t hesitate to ban the… whole website.

So we can see the beginning of a problem there…

Can you imagine, if this little war continues… and if the individual creates a blog on WordPress for instance and then on all the other blog systems available in the world ? Or if other people start to duplicate his videos ?

On the other hand, the thai authorities can’t back off. It would be way too dangerous.

18 Responses to “YouTube : ban again, new filter system and a threat”


  1. 1 hobby 9 June 2008 at 12:48 am

    On the other hand, the thai authorities can’t back off. It would be way too dangerous.

    It’s impossible to ban or block every loony, so instead they should be countering with their version.

    The idiotic videos can just be left alone, as their is no point arguing with an imbecile, and sensible people should have no difficulty in rising above that nonsense.

    As for the political points, the authorities should just deal with each point on it’s merits.

    For instance the ’15 years prison’ is very catchy, but can be easily countered by showing how the King has a policy of pardoning, particularly in recent years, and they could also refer to the King’s 2005 speech.

  2. 2 chinesethai 9 June 2008 at 3:36 am

    I began to realize they have blogged YouTube on Saturday. My friend sent me a link to watch a fun video but I couldn’t view it. A message appeared on top of the black screen saying “We’re sorry, this video is no longer available”. I thought it was because there is something wrong with my O/S. So I tried opening any YouTube clip with both Firefox and MSIE. But the results were the same. I don’t think the authority has the capacity to shut down millions of web sites. Too many of them are being launched everyday.

    The point is if they were decisive enough to completely get rid of Thaksin and his cronies in the first place, things wouldn’t have worsened these days.

    As you said, Thailand is going down the road of ‘Philippinization’!

  3. 3 thaicrisis 9 June 2008 at 4:28 am

    ->Hobby, I fully agree with your idea of 1-ignoring the insults and 2-counter attack on the political points.
    But, unfortunatly, your reasoning is… way too reasonable if I may say.
    πŸ˜‰

  4. 4 Chris 9 June 2008 at 6:26 am

    I’m not sure what kind of videos you are watching but I haven’t had any problems of late with youtube apart from it being slow, which I put down to my crappy ISP πŸ™‚

  5. 5 thaicrisis 9 June 2008 at 6:54 am

    Well Chris, if you’re in Thailand, try some of the links in the article, and you’ll see.

    Or you may have of course a special Internet access, that could bypass the filter system (like a dedicated line in a big multinational). Anyway.

  6. 6 15yearsprison 9 June 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Actually, I’m not on a “crusade”. That’s the excuse used by the army generals in bangkok to ILLEGALLY ban my stoplesemajeste channel.

    Unlike the Thai authorities, I have done nothing illegal. Both my blog and my youtube channels are legal. Neither am I trying to “provoke” the Thai authorities.

    I’m just making the point that if an entire nation feels threated by one individual, then there’s somethig seriously wrong with that nation.

    By the way, do you believe king Bhumibol killed his brother? Does my question upset you? Thais need to take that padlock off their minds and ask themselves who really has the problem here.

  7. 7 thaicrisis 9 June 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Hello 15yearsinprison. I’m glad that you have reacted.

    First, I’m not upset. If you peruse my blog, you would see that, excepted my little obsessions in economy (i like it), I’m just advocating free speech. All the time.

    Therefore, I don’t have taboos.

    You can have your opinions.

    Now, I still believe that, indirectly, you are enjoying the ban on your ideas/movies/comments. And this is precisely why censorship is a stupid policy, always, because it’s counterproductive.

    The thai authorities give you publicity. On the other hand, maybe they need you too. Who knows ? πŸ˜‰

    Now, I’ve got opinions too. And I think the insulting ways you use in most of your movies, decrease a lot the power of the political issues you’re talking about (for instance the massacre of Tak Bai, that is a real burning issue).

    I think that your style (very… original I should say) deserve your ideas.

    It’s counterproductive too.

    As for the dead of the King’s brother, really I don’t have opinion. We will probably never know what really happened. Many people have studied several angles : suicide, murder, accident etc. Nothing is clear.

  8. 8 Lyle 9 June 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I am so glad finally to find your website and this post about YouTube. At last I can understand what’s going on with YouTube — as an American living in Thailand, I have been trying to see video clips of the U.S. presidential campaign, but with no joy recently, and I was beginning to think something was wrong with my computer. But actually, that would be better than what is really going on, because if it were only my computer’s problem, I could get it fixed.

    Now that I know the government is “filtering” YouTube again (i.e. censoring it), I feel helpless and annoyed. The government is NOT filtering out only government-related or potentially offensive videos. Virtually ALL videos are impossible to see if T.O.T. is one’s ISP. Unfortunately T.O.T. is mine, and it won’t let me see anything related to Obama, Clinton, American Idol tv show, or, for that matter, Doctor Who, Madonna, and Catherine Tate. None of these subjects threaten the THai government or the monarchy. Why must the government block out everything?!?!

    Grrrr. Jai yen, jai yen. Oh, well. Mai pen rai, right?

  9. 9 thaicrisis 9 June 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Watch out Lyle : YouTube is filtering.

    When you get the message “Video not available” or “violation term of use” etc… these messages are of course generated by YouTube.

    The point is : it seems that the thai authorities (thais ISP on orders) are filtering/banning too with various schemes/systems, with more or less success (for instance, not access to YouTube, or even worse : impossible to play the video).

    So at the end (and all the stories on ThaiVisa forum prove it) : it’s a total mess. πŸ˜‰

    People are lost. Which of course, could be the ultimate goal.

  10. 10 mart 11 June 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Interesting recap! I certainly hope that 15yearsprison will chime in again in other related topics to come. I’d love to know what your actual motives are 15yearsprison. Don’t tell us that you do that just for the sake of free speech. There must be some other (personal?) issues which you do not want to reveal…
    Freedom of speech is an issue which fascinates me. Nothing (ok maybe privacy and truth but aren’t they somehow closely related?) is more important to a westerner. Yet it is of much lesser importance, if any, to many other cultures. I too am an ardent supporter of free speech but then I am a westerner and I’ve been conditioned to think that way.

  11. 11 LOL 19 June 2008 at 4:05 pm

    UM I THINK WERE BEING LOOKED AT
    The Thai stop banning you tube except for TOT cuz the thai government i don’t kno the name so they can see what videos were watching and our behaviors. But in my opinion whats the point cuz we wont use you tube and watch videos of disrespect of out king but its really unnecessary.

  12. 12 thaicrisis 19 June 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I’m not sure we shall be so paranoid… Can you imagine the number of people watching videos per day ? To watch them, to make a list, does seem too far fetched for me.

    And again I repeat, currently, the most visible “ban/censorship system” is located on the YouTube side :

    On the YouTube side, you have 2 ways :
    -“suspend” the account (this is what happened to 15yearsinprison)

    -and block some videos, depending on the location of your IP address. If you connect from Thailand, to watch a video, then you will see the message “β€œThis video has been removed due to term of use violation”
    But somebody else, in UK or USA for instance, will be able to see the video (because not in Thailand).

    I hope it’s clear.

    However, I can’t deny that some thai ISP have their own ban system. For instance, I’ve just tried one of the Youtube URL of my article with my thai ISP… I received the error “404 not found”. Even though, with a connexion from Europe it’s working very well. πŸ˜‰

    So yes it’s true, some thais ISP ban some website, on their own.

    As for the idea to watch or not watch, well, it should be the freedom of every individual.

    Some people like those video. Many other don’t like them at all. It’s normal. Those are opinions, and free speech issue.

    Nobody force nobody to connect to YouTube to watch offensive videos (for the king, or against anybody else, George Bush, Queen of England etc).

    That’s the whole idea that the thai authorites disagree with.

  13. 13 15yearsprison 19 June 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Hello mart,

    It may interest you to know that the biggest consumers of my videos are Thais, not “farangs” (westerners).

    Many Thais log on to youtube and search for my “ape king” videos, because they like being angry. It’s a bit like when people go to the cinema to watch a horror film because they enjoy being frightened.

    It sounds wacky, I know, but I’m convinced Thais love being provoked, it’s a way for them to reaffirm their “love” for King Bhumibol.

    So perhaps what Thaicrisis says is true. Thai authorities “need me” and they need my videos too, because they are a type of “therapy” for Thais.

  14. 14 thaicrisis 19 June 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I didn’t follow the comments posted on your own YouTube account… But I remember very well last year the storm, the hurricane of burning comments posted on the poor guy’s page (padida I think was his user name).

    It was simply and totally unbelievable. A burning hatery, hallucinated words (i was thinking about the movie Exorcist… “Your mother xxx xxx xxx xxx”, mixing of sex, references to family and other animal metaphors).

    Pure hatery. And it was not a few people. No at all. That was massive. Many thais connected and posted such comments.

    I mean I’ve a cool head… but I was shocked then.

    I continued for a while to read a little bit to try to understand this phenomena.

    Then of course, it was highly predictable, other YouTube users started to react and started to make their own offensive videos or writing their own very offensive comments… just to provoc the thais users.

    Anyway. Eventually, it was a storm in a glass of water.

    But still from a sociological point of view, it sheds light on some dark sides of Thailand.

  15. 15 15yearsprison 21 June 2008 at 4:57 pm

    What you say is obsolutely true, thaicrisis. The reaction from Thais to these videos is shocking and it does reveal a “dark side” which many Thais seem to have.

    Many of the messages from Thais make reference to incest (you having sex with your parents) and bestiality. A typical message will mention to your mother’s vigina or even “dick”. Often, Thais refer to your mother as a “dog” or another animal (buffalo).

    These messages usually end with a death threat and a reference to you and your family going to hell. Sometimes, there’s even a wish that you get AIDS or another horrible desease.

    I ask you, what kind of nation produces people who write messages like this?

  16. 16 thaicrisis 21 June 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I don’t want to engage in a controversy. I’ve got no explanation to that phenomena. It must be cultural. πŸ˜‰

    After all, western people have their own “mindsets” in order to create abuse, insults etc. It’s the same through history. Different times… different referentials.

    Anyway.

    I could give you a small mirror… Because some of your videos point also lower than the waist line if I may say.

    As I wrote before, using insults and low level abuses diminish the impact of any political messages.

    However, they’re obviously very good… to make thais furious. And I still believe that it’s what you wish to achieve.

    Don’t get me wrong : I don’t want to patronize you. I just try to understand your motivations. πŸ˜‰

  17. 17 Will 6 July 2008 at 3:14 pm

    As of this week, ALL YouTube viewers are “no longer available,” at least to Thai users with TOT as an internet provider. It appears that YouTube is just blocking all content to people with Thai ISPs. Smooth move on their part.


  1. 1 BKK News Feed Archive Trackback on 9 June 2008 at 3:27 am

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Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.


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