Over the course of that hour, many people speculated why it had been taken down. People were upset that their lines of communication were blocked and that their online routines had been disrupted. Users from all sides of the political spectrum were expressing anger. What Happened?
Responses to the outage were so strong that Thailand’s army included a denial of any involvement during a TV broadcast, despite conflicting messages in the media. In particular, Surachai Srisaracam, permanent secretary of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry, told Reuters that the block had been enforced deliberately.
The current level of censorship has been enough for Reporters Without Borders to rank at 134 out of 180 nations in its Press Freedom Index in 2015. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) enforces internet blocks by punishing noncompliance with reduced bandwidth and even a loss of licensure for the ISPs. Two companies TOT (state owned) and True have about 80% of the market share for home internet users, which also makes the MICT's enforcement especially simple for its orders of blocking websites.
In this case as in many cases when a new law is proposed in Thailand, it can be met with apathy because there has been a pattern of lack of enforcement and/or follow through. The blockage of Facebook was met with an outcry because it happened. The vast majority of Thailand's Facebook activity is photos of people going out, plates of food and pets, as can be said of most nations'.
A single gateway system sets up a community of haves and have nots among internet users. Many people in China use paid VPN services to access blocked content and very tech savvy users are able to circumvent the firewall for free although these measures do not help the issues with speed. Websites in China are blocked without notice and sensitive to current events, news about the Arab Spring in 2011 and 2012 prompted Chinese officials to block major media outlets intermittently. Google in China is heavily restricted, only allowing three searches in a short time period before being blocked for several hours and a Google image search of Chinese city names will crash a user's browser. Gmail, Google Drive, Google Chat and Google+ have also been intermittently banned, locking out some users without any notice. China banned The Big Bang Theory, a US television show from streaming in 2014 for becoming too popular. The Chinese Government created its firewall in 1997 to maintain order, their choices of websites to block since then can be arbitrary at times.
Many publications that are active in Thailand also already practice self-censorship for fear of having their web sites blocked. Many writers are unsure of how much they are allowed to be critical of government policies and many have become cautious. Libel has also been strongly applied to websites in Thailand, and web masters often censor user comments so that they are not held responsible for others' content on their websites.
One of the effects of being able to get news and information online is that people tend to seek out information that has a bias that they agree with. Neutral sources do exist and their neutrality is based upon writing factually and not practicing self censorship. Sites that are for social media contain many points of view and also serve as a cost-effective method of communication and are used for e-commerce by small businesses. Individuals and businesses that depend on all users being able to access their sites would be greatly harmed by being blocked and sites can be blocked in their entirety even when just a single bit of content is deemed unlawful.
While censorship of the internet may not be noticeable to you now, the proposal of single gateway internet in Thailand should concern you.