Bangkok (Thailand) – Thailand residents can once again view their favorite videos on YouTube after the government and Google agreed to block any offensive clips in the future. It’s been five long months since YouTube was blocked on April 4 2007, but the country’s minister of information Sittichai Pookaiyaudom says the agreement was actually reached some time ago, but that there have been technical hurdles in the implementation.
From now on, the Thai government can object to any posted video that is illegal or offensive to Thai culture. Google officials will then do an independent review and will block the videos from any IP address inside of Thailand. Interestingly enough, viewers outside the country will still be able to view the “banned” videos.
Back in March, Mr. Pookaiyaudom banned YouTube after a video defaming King Bhumibol Adulyadej appeared on the video sharing site. The video featured an image of the king with superimposed feet walking over his head – something which is highly offensive in Thai culture.
The vast majority of Thais support their monarch and the government has instituted strict laws which threaten up to 15 years in prison for anyone who defames or insults the king. These laws also extend to other members of royalty, including all past Thai kings. King Adulyadej himself takes a dim view of these laws saying that people have every right to criticize him. During his reign, he has pardoned several people convicted of breaking the defamation laws.