Friday, November 20, 2009
As frustrating as Vietnam’s apparent government-initiated black-out of Facebook has been this month, we can be thankful that Vietnam is not Thailand. It might surprise people to know that Thailand is one of the most repressive countries in Southeast Asia when it comes to internet access. Thanks to a law passed in 2007, all Internet Service Providers in Thailand are required to collect personal information to identify users (name, email address, passport or ID numbers and other information) as well as log ALL activity they engage in on the internet (websites visited, information submitted and communications sent). This of course makes connects insecure and data transmitted is at risk of hijacking by criminals. Much like the internet censorship in China, Thailand’s focus seems to be sexually explicit material, as well as politically sensitive information (information and posts critical of the government). This level of censorship and monitoring of private citizens, expats and tourists does not come cheaply however. The extra software, hardware and management needed have caused internet access in Thailand to skyrocket, making it one of the most expensive countries in the region for internet access. Expect to pay $4-$6US per hour, on top of the cost of your drinks at any café, or your room at a hotel. Wifi is never free in Thailand.