Revelation of Single Gateway is dating to September 22, when a tweeter user (@Sik***u) tweeted something that Prawut has to worry about.
“Thai cabinet wants MICT to create a Single Gateway for Thailand to block access to sites and control information flow.”
MICT, or Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, has been on the frontline for censorship operation in Thailand. The tweet has embedded a URL from the website of Public Relation Department. The link has shown the government’s plan of Single Gateway, but has disappeared shortly indicating that the government quietly, if not covertly, has been framing it out. Unless the sharp-eyed tweeter revealed it, the post may have remained unrecognized.
Revelation of the Junta’s censorship project
According to various reports, Single Gateway has become a Cabinet agenda since June 30. On July 14, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Char reportedly ordered “urgent implementation” of the plan. Cabinet resolution on the plan was tabled again on August 4. MICT and other relevant authorities were ordered to follow up on progress and report to Prime Minister on August 27, when cabinet resolution has explicitly stated the project’s purpose : “To control inappropriate website and information flow from abroad”. Then the project has been reportedly endorsed by the Cabinet on September 1st. No official announcement has been made, however, nor any attention caught, until September 22 when the first tweet appeared.
The notion of Single Gateway has never been officially defined. But there is common interpretation that government aims total control over internet traffic through state-commanding ISP. This would enable the government to filter ‘undesirable’ information, particularly those flowed in from abroad let alone domestic contents.
Interestingly, it was game community who opposed it most at first. According to Statista, - the website specialized in various statistic, there are some 9,9 million gamers in Thailand which amount to more than ‘one in six’ of Thailand’s 67 million population. They have become leading forces of resistance against the Junta’s new breed of censorship. The gamer Prawut, who’s been at the center of Cyber Warfare, defines this war as “war between dictatorship and online community.”
“We will continue our attack until the government would issue written resolution stating complete cancellation of the project” He wrote in a messenger interview with this writer. “Just for a short and simple word, Freedom” He emphasized. “We think that online is where freedom is left. It’s the last space in this country” he added.
What impact would Single Gateway bring to gamers then? I asked.
“It will create bottleneck in online system. Information will be difficult to flow. It means..” he continued “gamers in Thailand will be doomed”. “There will be no future for us to compete with anyone in the world.”
According to Prawut, ‘Cyber Warriors’ of his Facebook page are “gamers, students using internet, online merchants and ordinary citizens who came together to oppose the project.”