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Court Quashes Thailand’s Order to Censor Media Coverage of Protests

Thailand Criminal Court Bangkok Courthouse

The government’s attempt to censor online broadcasts of the pro-democracy protests around the country was foiled by the Criminal Court in a rare case of the judiciary not rubber-stamping the military-backed administration.

The Digital Economy Ministry and the Royal Thai Police on Tuesday had ordered VoiceTV, Prachathai.com, The Reporters, and The Standard to livestreaming content that “promotes unrest”. All four were directed to immediately halt broadcasts on the Line social network and their websites.

A similiar order later was issued against the Free People Movement’s online platforms.

On Wednesday, the Criminal Court voided the orders, saying the breach Article 35 of the constitution that guaranteed press freedom.

The Ministry has accused the four news outlets and the protesters’ webpage of violating computer crime law during their coverages of the anti-government protest on Friday.

Hundreds of thousands misinformation and fake news have been detected, police say, and at least 58 accounts of digital platforms have been identified as the sources.

The government has sought from the outset of the protests to curb media coverage, including teling foreign journalists to butt out of Thailand’s internal business.