Thai ISPs have been granted the authority to monitor and unilaterally block websites deemed threatening to national security or critical of the monarchy.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and a special branch of the country’s police force approved the measure at a meeting with the major Thai ISPs. The change covers all internet content, which could previously only be blocked via a police-requested court order.
The NBTC and the ICT Ministry must be advised of all content blocks, while ISPs have been instructed to check with the NBTC if they are unsure whether to block a particular piece of content. The NBTC has stated that it is not delegating responsibility to ISPs, and that it will continue to monitor web content.
The regulator has claimed that the measure is necessary as foreign media firms have been too reluctant to censor content that the Thai government finds objectionable.
Additionally, the NBTC has reiterated that it will push to keep the country’s 4G spectrum auctions on schedule. The end of August is the current proposed deadline, as AIS’s 900MHz licence expires on September 30th and the NBTC is keen to avoid handling the operator’s 2G customers.
The regulator is planning to sell off 42.5MHz of spectrum in the 1.8GHz and the 900MHz bands. However, it needs approval from the National Council for Peace and Order (the military government) before this can go ahead.
The government has already delayed the auctions into 2015, and the country’s operators have joined the regulator in making it clear that they would prefer no further delays.