The government of Thailand has ordered a blanket ban on the distribution of “fake news” or information causing public fear across all media platforms. The announcement, signed by the Prime Minister of Thailand and published in the Royal Gazette on July 30 (Friday). It was issued in compliance with Section 9 of the emergency decree.
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, while announcing the “emergency” decree, said the measure is intended to make sure false content spread online doesn’t undermine the government’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the order, which was made official in the Royal Gazette, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) is required to instruct Internet service providers (ISPs) to check IP addresses and immediately suspend services of any such media houses that spread “false or distorted” news causing panic, misunderstanding or confusion “affecting state security, abusing the rights of others, and order or good morality of the people”.
The ISPs must report the details of their findings to the NBTC. The ISPs who fail to comply with the order will be considered to have failed to follow the requirements of their operating licenses, leading to their operating licences being revoked, read the order.
According to local media outlet Thaiger, the government has extended the decree until the end of September. This was the 13th time the decree has been extended since its introduction in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, reports Thaiger.
Media outlets in Thailand protest against government’s ban on those spreading ‘fake news’
Meanwhile, six Thai media outlets have come out against the orders calling it an infringement on freedom of expression. These media outlets had released a joint statement on July 15, in which they voiced concern about the restrictions.
According to Thai PBS World, the media outlets have acknowledged that news reports by some organisations have been erroneous, but they insist that this was not done on purpose and that no news was produced deliberately, as the government believes. They said they will continue to battle for freedom of expression until the administration realises that restricting such freedoms could lead to its ultimate downfall.
The PM, meanwhile, has responded to the media statement by ordering authorities to enforce the restrictions against all media outlets, websites, and media personalities who continue to spread “fake news”.
Thailand govt faces criticism for the handling of the Covid pandemic, PM says all is well
Meanwhile, with 17,669 new cases and 165 deaths, Thailand reportedly recorded its highest number of cases and Covid -19 related deaths since the pandemic began in early 2020 on July 29 (Thursday). In all, Thailand has recorded a total of 561,030 cases and 4,562 deaths.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s government is facing harsh criticism over its handling of the virus surge and slow vaccination program, amid reports of people dying in the streets or in their homes while waiting for treatment.
The Prime Minister, has, however, claimed that his country is doing well as compared to other nations that are dealing with higher caseloads. In a special interview held at the Government House on July 29 (Thursday), he said: “If we contemplate the transmission in our country, it may seem shocking, given the daily fatalities. I want you to try paying attention to these numbers in our neighbouring countries and others for a change.”
Maintaining that his government is handling the pandemic well, PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha added: “At present, every country in the world has more or less felt the impact. There are many top-ranking countries, as you can see, whose numbers are many times higher than ours.”
The health ministry of Thailand on July 11, 2021 (Sunday) informed that as many as 618 healthcare workers have contracted Covid despite receiving two doses of the China-made Sinovac vaccine. It is being reported that a nurse has died and another medical worker is in critical condition. The nation’s health ministry is weighing using a third booster dose to the 677,348 medical personnel, who received the Chinese vaccine.