Thai OTPC project fitted with web censors; undesirable sites blocked

Thailand’s ICT Ministry has signed off a deal to install a monitoring and web-censorship software on all the one million tablets handed out to schoolchildren worth $3.8 million (12 million Baht).

The project was won by a local Thai company called SAP (no relation to Germany’s SAP) that now has 90 days to deliver the software. It is expected that the software would be ready to be installed on the tablets by 1 December.

The program will not just block undesirable websites but also log all web access.

However, there appears to be no clear plan on how to ensure that the web logger and filter is installed on all the tablets as they have already been handed out.

The ICT Ministry in its press conference also said that it would ask the telecoms regulator to ensure that ISPs censor undesirable websites so that the tablet would achieve the quality goals it set out to achieve.

Parents and opposition politicians were up in arms when it became apparent that the one million Android tablets handed out to 5-year-olds did not come with any web filtering and pictures soon circulated of the tablets being used to access pornographic websites. This was despite a web filter being promised when the project was vetted by parliamentary sub-committee.

ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap initially defended the lack of web censorship software saying only that the tablets were designed to be used offline and any online use was the responsibility of the parents or teacher allowing the connection.

Shadow ICT Minister Sirichok Sopha pointed out that on the same date (20 August) that Anudith said the tablet was for off-line use, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the OTPC was designed to connect the children to the Internet through high speed WiFi.

Just under half of the one million units are expected to have been distributed by the end of August.