Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Hands off our porn: users protest Thai ban on sex websites

Thailand is the world’s 10th largest Pornhub market as measured by daily traffic.

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Anger over censorship is flooding Thai social media after Thailand’s government banned Pornhub, the largest porn site in the world, and 190 other sexually graphic websites.

Digital Minister Puttipong Punnakanta told reporters the ban was part of efforts to restrict access to porn and gambling websites. Now, everyone who tries to access any of the blocked sites finds only a government warning page.

According to the Thai Examiner, Thailand is the world’s 10th largest Pornhub market as measured by daily traffic. The country is internationally infamous for its sex-for-sale tourist nightlife.

A hashtag that translates as #HornyPower is trending on Thai Twitter with tweets saying the government would be facing greater opposition because of this censorship.

“If people didn’t hate the current military government before, now they probably do,” said user Jirawat Punnawat.

Anonymous Party, an activist group said, “We want to reclaim Pornhub. People are entitled to choices.”

Emilie Pradichit, director of the Manushya Foundation, a human rights organisation that works to empower marginalised communities and which campaigns for digital rights, said, “This shows that Thailand is a land of digital dictatorship, with conservatives in power trying to control what young people can watch, say and do online.”

Protests also spilled over into the streets. According to the Pattaya News, on Tuesday a group of activists gathered in front of the Digital Ministry in Bangkok protesting against the porn ban, and general censorship by the government.

Thailand has a long record of blocking sites the government does not like but the offending sites are usually guilty of running gossipy stories about the royal family. The UK’s national daily Mail Online suffers an on-again-off-again Thai ban for doing this.

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, and calling for reforms to reduce King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s powers.

Protesters are becoming more emboldened and less fearful of official retribution by the day.

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