Thailand To Terminate YouTube Ban

    June 28, 2007

The last development in this story took place over a month ago, so here’s a little refresher: several videos on YouTube insulted the king of Thailand, and that country’s government responded by blocking the site.  It also threatened to sue, but that plan was abandoned, and the ban has now been lifted, as well.

Indeed, Thailand’s Information and Communications Technology Minister, Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, seems to have seen the light.  Although YouTube has, from very early on this dispute, tried to take down the offending clips, Komsan Tortermvasna reports that “Mr Sitthichai . . . will this week restore access to the immensely popular YouTube website.  He had learned the webmaster would block Thai viewers from seeing some improper content.”

Pookaiyaudom is also, to his credit, “seeking the revocation of a coup-makers’ announcement that empowers him to close websites at will,” according to the same article.  “He wants the process to be handled by a court instead.”

Granted, this arrangement will still leave a number of onlookers feeling unsatisfied – Google, YouTube, and censorship have had much too close a close relationship at times.  But Google is, while obeying local laws, still making an effort to avoid the practice.

“In response to this growing global debate, Google representatives are reportedly asking the US Trade Representative to treat censorship as a barrier to trade, presumably using sanctions or other pressure to move governments to cease demanding censorship of online communication,” notes Marshall Kirkpatrick.

In any event, it’s nice (and surprising) to see that things have finally been resolved between Thailand and YouTube; with any luck, this won’t start all over again after the ban is lifted.