Thailand Lawyers Up In Anti-YouTube Crusade

    May 8, 2007

About a month ago, the government of Thailand blocked YouTube; all of YouTube was inaccessible in all of Thailand, and the ban has remained in place all this time.  But that apparently wasn’t enough: Thailand now intends to sue the video-sharing site.

The flap relates to a clip that shows the feet of a woman above the head of Thailand’s King – this is insulting by Thai standards, and things escalated after several other videos compared King Bhumibol Adulyadej to a monkey.  YouTube stood firm, and did not take down the videos.

But now, in addition to the clips, the Thai government is upset over what it sees as unequal treatment.  “Google cited freedom of information as the reason for not exercising censorship here,” complained Thai Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, according to a TNA report, “but it earlier agreed to censor its website in China since China is a more powerful country.”

Hence the threat of a lawsuit.

The publicity may actually benefit the video-sharing site – it has gained a reputation for caving in to demands (as has its owner, Google).  As for the legal ramifications, YouTube’s lawyers are probably having a good laugh, but the suit is nonetheless going to mean more paperwork for them.

The Washington Post’s Emil Steiner had a good pointer for the Thai government, however.  “Perhaps instead of suing YouTube . . . Thailand might put those same resources toward eradicating the flesh trade within its own boarders.  For while spoofing the king may have insulted a great many people, isn’t the reputation of rampant sexual slavery and underage prostitution far more insulting?”