Thailand outraged over new YouTube King videos
Thailand on Friday expressed outrage at the posting of new videos mocking the country's revered king on the video-sharing website YouTube, pledging to maintain a ban on the site.
The military-installed government banned YouTube this week after it failed to block the first video deemed insulting to His Majesty the King.
One clip used an expletive to denounce the king and the government.
"This group of people has found another outlet, taking another action that is considered very offensive to the king," said communications ministry spokesman Vissanu Meeyoo.
"Thailand doesn't want to take this kind of action. We are just doing it temporarily," he said of the ban imposed on Tuesday.
The original video appeared to have been withdrawn by its creator, with a notice on the site saying it had been "removed by the user".
But more clips, posted by users with different screen names from the original video creator, surfaced on Friday. The site was accessed in Bangkok via a foreign server.
The controversy over the videos has generated heated debate in online discussion forums.
"It's not that we hate free speech. What you are doing is not free speech. It's an act of discrimination against our culture and country," one YouTube user said.
Another responded to the videos by posting a Thai commercial that showed people around the country discussing why they revere the king.
But most responded with vitriol, accusing the creator of the clips of racism or defamation in often vulgar terms.
The decision, however, to block the entire site has drew sharp criticism from media freedom groups, who said it highlighted a growing trend for the military government to censor political expression on the Internet.
"It's another example of how silly and ineffective censorship really is," said CJ Hinke, coordinator of the group Freedom Against Censorship Thailand.
His group, which lobbies for an end to online censorship, says Thailand's government has blocked a total of 45,000 websites.
About 85 per cent of them are believed to be pornographic, but Hinke said the government also bans political websites, including discussions of the insurgency in Thailand's south.
Since the military seized power in a September coup, it has also blocked political websites linked to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, other media rights groups say.
Thai officials planned to meet later Friday with an association of Internet users to discuss ways of policing the Internet, the communications ministry spokesman said.
"We need cooperation from Internet users to monitor these groups," he added.
A spokeswoman for YouTube said in remarks e-mailed to AFP before the new videos were posted that the company was "disappointed" with Thailand's ban of the site.
"We have asked the government to lift the block, and we look forward to the resumption of service to our Thai users," spokeswoman Julie Supan said.