YouTube says it is ready for compromise
Offers to 'educate' authorities on blocking individual videos rather than entire site
YouTube said yesterday it would offer to "educate" authorities in this country about how the popular video-sharing service works. Such an offer, if accepted, would enable the blocking of individual videos rather than the entire site.
The YouTube site was banned in Thailand on Wednesday after a user posted videos mocking His Majesty the King.
Meanwhile, Democrat Party deputy leader Alongkorn Pollabutr called on the government to take drastic action.
"Blocking the website is not enough. We must find and punish the wrongdoer," Alongkorn said. He called on the government to request the cooperation of YouTube owner Google in tracking the culprit down.
Alongkorn did not explain if his call for retribution meant taking legal action against the user who posted the video clip deemed offensive to the monarchy and, if so, how such action might proceed.
YouTube spokeswoman Julie Supan said the company had spoken to Information and Communica-tions Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom about the ban and made the offer to "educate" authorities.
"Minister Sitthichai reported his government is inflexible on the blocking of individual objectionable videos and that the ministry's technical people have difficulty understanding how to block individual videos," she said.
"While we will not take down videos that do not violate our policies and will not assist in implementing censorship, we have offered to educate the Thai ministry about YouTube and how it works," she said.
"It's up to the Thailand government to decide whether to block specific videos, but we would rather that than have it block the entire site," she added.
The ministry is still deciding how to proceed. It is willing to consider censoring individual videos rather than the entire site.
"We insist that the clips con-sidered offensive must be removed from the website," said ministry spokesman Vissanu Meeyoo.
"We will look into the technical possibilities of blocking individual Web pages without blocking the entire site," he added.
The difficulty for censors blocking individual videos became increasingly clear as new clips continued to be posted this week.
The site, accessed from Bangkok via a foreign server, now has at least 10 clips connected to the controversy. Although the user who created it has removed the original clip, some others are similar, showing pictures of His Majesty that are considered offensive in Thailand.
But some were simple videos of individuals expressing concern about free-speech issues raised by the ban, part of a fierce debate that has erupted on Internet message boards here and around the world.
Media-freedom watchdogs have condemned the ban, saying it underscores the military government's effort to censor political dialogue on the Internet.
Thailand has blocked some 45,000 websites, according to the group Freedom Against Censor-
ship Thailand. Most are believed to be pornographic, but the government has also banned sites linked to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as well as online discussions of the insurgency in the South.