Friday, April 13, 2007

Thailand bans Youtube

— Thailand’s military-appointed government blocked access to YouTube and several other Internet sites on Wednesday in a crackdown on material that denigrates the country’s monarch.

“We have blocked YouTube because it contains a video insulting to our king,” said Winai Yoosabai, head of the censorship unit at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

Thailand’s ban on YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site, came after YouTube’s owner, Google, refused to remove the video clip, the communications minister, Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, said.

The clip, crude and amateurish and lasting less than a minute, depicts the king with clown features painted onto his face and an image of feet pasted over his head, an insulting gesture in Thailand.

The Thai crackdown follows similar moves elsewhere this year against YouTube, the Internet site that allows users to easily upload, share and watch video clips.

Last month, Turkey cut off access to the site for several days to block a video deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Insulting Ataturk is a criminal offense in Turkey.

A court in Brazil ordered access to YouTube blocked for several days in January after clips of a prominent model cavorting in the sea with her lover kept reappearing on the site.

The bans come as governments and private companies grapple with the posting of controversial and copyrighted material on the Internet.

YouTube was purchased by Google in November for $1.6 billion. Some analysts have suggested that YouTube could turn into a liability for the search company.

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