BANGKOK—Criticism over Thailand’s efforts to curb political debate online is mounting, as the government restricts thousands of websites following deadly protest clashes earlier this year.
Thai authorities say they have blocked at least 40,000 Web pages this year, according to the government’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, which monitors the Internet. Free-speech activists say authorities are blocking at least 110,000 sites, based on government disclosures and spot checks online.
Many of the sites feature criticism of the government or debates about Thailand’s revered monarchy, a taboo subject here. As a result, some advocates say Thailand—long seen as a relative haven of free speech in Asia—is becoming one of the least-free states in a region that includes China and Myanmar, when it comes to discourse online.
Censorship of the media has reached “an unprecedented level” in Thailand, says Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thailand expert at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.