10.08.2022

Online porn ban sparks backlash in Thailand

Thailand’s government has decided to ban Pornhub and 190 other porn sites, in a move that has prompted a strong backlash from users online.

The country’s Digital Minister Puttipong Punnakanta said the ban was part of efforts to restrict access to porn and gambling websites, adding that such content is illegal under the country’s cybercrime law.

Following the ban, a closure order appeared on all these sites stating that the content is allegedly “guilty according to the Computer Crime Act 2007 by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society”.

However, many were not satisfied with the reason and criticised the move, labelling it as censorship and calling for protests.

#SavePornHub and another hashtag which translates as #HornyPower trended on Thai Twitter for hours, with tweets making comments or posting memes that the government would be facing greater opposition now beyond the protesters.

A Twitter user named Jirawat Punnawat wrote: “If someone doesn’t hate the current military government, now they probably do,”

An activist group called Anonymous Party posted a statement saying: “We want to reclaim Pornhub. People are entitled to choices.” Another group, using the hashtag #SavePornhub, called a demonstration for Tuesday afternoon.

Some asked whether the ban was about trying to protect Thai morals or because the site featured some compromising royal images.

Thailand has had a long history of censoring digital and cable content, often citing cultural and political reasons. The government recently put a ban on four news claiming legal violations and provocation of the current political unrest, however, a criminal court ruled against the government decision.

Emilie Pradichit, director of the Manushya Foundation, which campaigns for digital rights, said the decision showed Thailand was “a land of digital dictatorship, with conservatives in power trying to control what young people can watch, can say and can do online.”

Thailand’s government has faced months of youth and student-led protests demanding the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, a former junta leader, as well as calling for reforms to reduce King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s powers.

According to the data released in 2019, Bangkok is the 10th biggest market in terms of daily traffic for Pornhub, a globally-known sex industry. It follows New york, London and Paris which are the top three markets in the world for consumption of the site’s content.

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