Thailand may soon introduce Internet censorship on a grand scale and make online privacy very difficult. That’s according to a statement from the military government calling for a single Internet gateway.
The statement orders the Ministry of Information and Communication, along with other government agencies, to establish a single gateway for Internet connections in Thailand. The gateway is to be “used as a tool to control inappropriate sites and the influx of information from abroad through the Internet,” according to the statement.
A Twitter user discovered the statement by reviewing government resolutions online — which is funnily ironic, since he used the Internet to discover plans to censor the Internet. That doesn’t make the government’s intentions any less troubling from a privacy perspective, however.
By creating a single gateway, the government would be able to control all Internet traffic entering and leaving Thailand. That means it could easily block sites, eavesdrop on conversations and monitor users’ activity unless they take steps to anonymize themselves and keep their connections private via tools like Tor or a VPN service.
Internet censorship in Thailand has increased steadily since a military coup overthrew the last government in 2006. Although the censorship initially centred on blocking access to pornographic sites, it has expanded to target online content that is critical of the government as well.
The single-gateway policy would extend the government’s ability to censor Internet activity to a new level. Effectively, it would create something akin to China’s “Great Firewall” by allowing the government a single choke point for blocking and monitoring online activity.
It could even potentially be used to block services like VPNs in the same way that the Chinese government does. Fortunately, Tor would likely be more difficult for authorities to restrict even with a single gateway.