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NBTC seeking authorisation to fine ISPs for content offences

NBTC seeking authorisation to fine ISPs for content offences

After a failed attempt to block access to Facebook for failing to remove content deemed illegal, Thai regulator NBTC is now trying to gain the authority to fine companies that do not react quickly enough to ‘take down’ requests.

The NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) is seeking the power to impose fines so that it has greater agency to force companies to remove content that it considers illegal without requiring a court order. If its proposals go through, companies would have around a month to comply with regulatory requests before they are fined.

In addition, overseas internet firms would be required to have a senior manager based in Thailand who speaks Thai, in order to expedite the firm’s response to content removal requests.

Last month, Facebook’s refusal to censor 131 posts that Thailand’s government claimed as ‘illegal’ resulted in the country’s authorities pushing ISPs to prevent users from accessing the social media site, as well as an ultimatum from the Thai Criminal Court to remove the offending content or face legal action. The US firm refused to block the majority of the posts, on the grounds that they did not conflict with its “community standards.”

Facebook’s take down request follows a spate of government censorship requests made across the past few months. NBTC vice chairman Natee Sukonrat confirmed that the government was no longer attempting to block access to Facebook in Thailand, but is instead penalising the US firm financially – although he did not determine how exactly.

 “They have to play by the rules. I think they will cooperate because they make a lot of money from Thailand,” stated Sukonrat.