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Cyber Scout: Thailand’s internet police?

Become a Cyber Scout Volunteer

The government of Thailand is recruiting young people and other internet literate citizens to join its ‘cyber scout’ program which will monitor the internet of “online behavior that is deemed a threat to national security and the royal institution.’ Although it was announced a few months ago, the first training took place last December 20-21 at Kasetsart University.

Saksith Saiyasombut translates the objectives of the project:

1. To create a Cyber Scout volunteer network […] that observes […] [online] behavior that is deemed a threat to national security and to defend and protect the royal institution.

4. To promote the moral and ethics with the help of the volunteers, to ensure the correct behavior, build reconciliation and awareness towards the use of information with regard to morality and safety of individuals in society.

5. To promote and support to various sectors of society to careful and responsible usage of information technology.

The blogger warns that the program could worsen internet censorship in Thailand. Today, more than 100,000 websites are blocked by Thai authorities.

… it is quite clear that a general trend of over-emphasizing the loyalty by all means and the sudden urge to protect the royal institution against a perceived, invisible threat. And since the internet is a quite anonymous place, it’s an even more frightening threat. Thus these mental and cultural barricades are built with the recruited man-power and the social dogma of loyalty – both off- and online.

… in order to build a knowledge-based society, which the government eventually wants to have, you have to allow the freedom to collect the knowledge by yourself and not being shoved into the throat.

Leosia criticizes the program

This whole process is disgusting. You start with immature and naive youngsters and then give them a moral superiority imperative to hunt down and expose anyone with an opinion.

Patrick Henry comments that it is a high tech version of the Village Scouts which was formed to hunt down communist members in the 1970s

Hmmm… a high tech version of the Village Scouts? You'd think this regime would have better things to do. Welcome to the Kingdom of Orwell.

Political Prisoners in Thailand describes the program

Genius mixed with Fascist tendencies, vigilantes and the “ethics” of censorship. Fabulous. Thanks Mr. Abhisit (Note:Prime Minister of Thailand).

When the program was unveiled a few months ago, Nicholas Farrelly wrote about the impact of the program on the credibility of Thailand’s political institutions

…it also serves to convince some people that when the time comes the Thai authorities will be capable of controlling the potentially huge surges of critical, satirical and confronting commentary that lurk over the horizon. I remain unpersuaded that these efforts will actually prove fit for purpose and may, once all is said and done, actually further undermine the credibility of some of Thailand’s key institutions.

Some comments on Twitter and Facebook

Brian Jungwiwattanapor: what an incredibly horrible idea. makes me laugh, makes me cry
freakingcat: @f_dinkum :-) Shows my admiration for the selfless service our Thai Cyber Scout Rats do for this country
AnyaP: Cool title for a less than cool initiative.

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