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New internet freedom study lowers Thailand to 3rd to last

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PHOTO: A global survey finds Thailand among the worst in internet freedom. (via CoE.int)

A new report on internet freedom and censorship around the world has placed Thailand in the third-lowest ranking, dropping 2 levels from last year. On a scale of 1 to 11, one being nearly unrestricted and 11 being fully locked down, Thailand is now ranked an 8, with the report declaring Thailand’s internet freedom 73% restricted.

Comparitech, the company that conducts these rankings, measures countries around the world on restrictions on things like torrenting (downloading files, often illegally), porn, social media, chatting and messaging apps, VPNs (to anonymise access and often skirt these restrictions), and political media.

The ratings drop from 6 to 8 is attributed to 2 main factors – censorship of pornography and political censorship. An online porn ban blocked 190 popular porn websites including Pornhub, which ranked in the top 20 most visited websites in Thailand. Online porn is wildly popular with Pornhub culling 10 million more visitors a month in the US than Zoom (629.5 million) and nearly 100 million more hits than Netflix’s 541 million monthly views.

The new restrictions PM Prayut Chan-o-cha imposed on news posted online, moving the restriction from fake news to any news that could incite fear regardless of truth, that have been widely decried and ruled unconstitutional likely did not help Thailand’s ranking in the internet freedom study.

Thailand ranked as one of 3 countries worldwide with increased internet censorship, along with Guinea and Greece who went from the freest ranking to a 3 due to some throttling of press freedom and political media.

The score of 8 out of 11 puts Thailand in the company of regular internet freedom restrictors like the United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan, and Belarus, and also newly ranked Qatar and Syria. All ban porn, censor political content, and restrict some social media and VPN usage.

But take heart, Thailand is still freer than other countries, like Iran who scored a 10 on the scale and of course China and North Korea that ranked a full 11 with the harshest internet restrictions in the world.

SOURCE: Comparitech

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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