Internet Politics: Internet as a Political Tool in Thailand/POLITIQUE INTERNET: INTERNET COMME UN OUTIL POLITIQUE EN THAÏLANDE

By Bunyavejchewin, Poowin | Canadian Social Science, June 3, 2010 | Go to article overview

Internet Politics: Internet as a Political Tool in Thailand/POLITIQUE INTERNET: INTERNET COMME UN OUTIL POLITIQUE EN THAÏLANDE


Bunyavejchewin, Poowin, Canadian Social Science


Abstract: This article explores the internet as a political tool in order to achieve political goals. In Thailand, for example, the internet has significant roles in the contemporary Thai political context. It demonstrates that the internet is a tool that can be used for political mobilizing, promoting and protecting the mainstream ideology of the state. This paper also argues that it has many possible uses for censorship and surveillance by the government. In conclusion, the internet can be considered political.

Keywords: Internet; Thai Political Conflicts; Censorship and Surveillance

Résumé: Cet article étudie l'Internet comme un outil pour atteindre des objectifs politiques. En Thaïlande, par exemple, l'Internet joue un rôle important dans le contexte politique thaïlandais contemporaine. Il démontre que l'Internet est un outil qui peut être utilisé pour mobiliser la volonté politique, la promotion et la protection de l'idéologie de courant dominant de l'Etat. Ce document affirme qu'il existe de nombreuses utilisations possibles de la censure et de la surveillance par le gouvernement. En conclusion, l'Internet peut être considéré comme politique.

Mots-clés: Internet; conflits politiques thaïlandais; censure et surveillance

INTRODUCTION

New technologies and innovations always change our socio-political world in dramatic and unexpected ways. The internet has considerably altered our social and political life faster than any other technological innovation in the twentieth century. Participation in politics has been transformed because of the internet, especially major active social networking websites and political blogs.

Recently, Internet consumption has increased significantly. At the beginning, the internet seemed to be a privilege for a very small group of people due to its expensive cost; however, it has become accessible for almost everyone, especially the middle-class.

This change has affected information control, which was centralized by a government in the past because the internet offers people an unlimited source of information and a place to speak out. In other words, information dissemination is democratized by the internet. In many developing states, the internet is perhaps a threat to the government because most developing states are still in the nation-building process and have many sensitive issues, such as national security. There are many discussions about sensitive issues in the internet sphere, despite the states' attempt to restrict online collaboration about the issues. Many states have responded to these challenges by imposing strict censorship and surveillance on the internet.

Like other developing states, the internet has now become common in Thailand, and the flow of information and discussions about political opposition and sensitive issues are increasingly in the internet sphere. As a bureaucratic-authoritarian regime, Thailand has many delicate issues and political conflicts. The Thai government has often censored and monitored political blogs, alternative news websites, and social networking websites like Facebook. At the same time, the Thai government has also used the internet as apolitical tool for promoting and protecting the mainstream political ideology, Royal Nationalism.

This article will address the role of the internet in Thai political conflicts, and explain theories on censorship and surveillance as well as the function of the Thai government in censorship and surveillance.

BRIEF BACKGROUND OF CONTEMPORARY THAI POLITICS

Democracies comes in many forms, but their common basis is an election. Without an electoral process, it cannot be claimed that there is democracy because democracy is the rule of the majority. That is the reason why I argue that a political regime in Thailand is bureaucratic-authoritarian regime since it had both de jure and de facto coup d'état in recent years.

Bureaucratic-authoritarianism is an approach for explaining political phenomenon and regimes in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the late 1960s (Wiarda, 2000, p. …

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