BANGKOK — Thailand has slid to its lowest level of internet freedom reported by a US watchdog since it began keeping track.
For the fourth consecutive time since the military seized power in 2014, Freedom House rated Thailand as “Not Free” in terms of internet freedom, awarding its lowest score since it began tracking in 2011. It cited a number of reasons, including a clampdown on information since the death of King Bhumibol in 2016.
“Internet freedom declined to its lowest level yet in 2017, continuing a downward spiral that began when the junta seized power,” the report said, which was published Sunday. “Censorship and rights violations intensified after the death of King Rama IX in October 2016.”
Other factors cited were amendments to the Computer Crime Act for continuing to undermine internet freedom by expanding official censorship and surveillance powers. The military court also sentenced at least two internet users to more than a decade in jail for their online activities, the report noted.
Following King Bhumibol’s death, the government imposed a year-long period of national mourning. Apart from advising the public to dress in black, government officials warned against remarks or activities that would be considered “inappropriate.”
Newsrooms also came under pressure to practice self-censorship and keep their reports about the royal funeral – a carefully choreographed spectacle – in line with the official narrative.