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Thailand Names General PM, UN Tells ICP Favors Democracy

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 22 -- While today's UN claims to be for democracy and against censorship, its pattern of not comment on Thailand, for example, until asked and then refusing to directly address anti-democratic moves tells a different story.

 On August 22 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: In Thailand, the military Government has named Prime Minister their own General, Prayuth Chan-ocha.  I wondered what is the UN thinking as this process goes forward Itís not really a move towards democratization.  Itís actually a giving of a political post to a military figure.  Is there any comment from the UN on that?

Spokesman Dujarric:  On Thailand, the Secretary-General continues to appeal for prompt return to constitutional civilian democratic rule and all-inclusive dialogue that will pave the way for long-term peace and prosperity in Thailand.  He urges all parties to work together constructively and refrain from violence and respect human rights.

Inner City Preess:  But isn't a General as Prime Minister contrary to that?

Spokesman Dujarric:  You asked the question with preamble you delivered.  I answered that.  I answered the question.

  Really? Meanwhile censorship including of social media has been on the move in Thailand since, on May 28, the military government banned Facebook.

  At first they claimed it was a technical glitch, then admitted it had been an experiment but in light of push-back, the ban was reversed.

  There's irony in Reuters reporting this, when it has engaged in more targeted censorship by filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint with Google to get its UN bureau chief's "for the record" complaint to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, click here for that.

  One take-away might be that targeted censorship, no matter how cynical, can last longer than banning a whole social media network.

   Google has accepted and acted on DMCA complaints about leaked e-mails, for example from Reuters to the United Nations seeking to get the investigative Press thrown out, and has then blocked access to the leaked documents from its search.

  Of this abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry told Inner City Press about the Reuters case:

"Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a copyright holder (assuming that the person that sent this notice actually held copyright in the email) to abuse the DMCA to take down content and stifle legitimate speech. As countries outside the US consider adopting DMCA-like procedures, they must make sure they include strong protections for free speech, such as significant penalties for takedown abuse."

  In this case, copyright is being (mis) claimed for an email from Reuters' Louis Charbonneau to the UN's chief Media Accreditation official Stephane Dujarric -- since March 10 Ban Ki-moon's new spokesperson -- seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. 

  Access to the document has been blocked from Google's search based on a cursory take-down request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

 If this remains precedent, what else could come down? We'll have more on all this. Watch this site.


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