Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thailand: Solving the Internet Gateway Problem

September 29, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - There is a growing controversy as the Thai government is allegedly preparing to implement measures online to track, intercept and block certain information. Much of the complaints revolve around what critics claim the government will do, not what the government has actually said it will do.

The Bangkok Post in its article titled, "Govt internet gateway plan sparks fury," reports:
Activists campaigning for internet freedom have slammed the government's recent move to develop a single internet gateway to expand state control over online media.

Last week, citizens learned of the government's intention to build a single gateway, after it ordered the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) to take steps to channel all traffic in or out of Thailand.

According to an army source, the single gateway will be implemented to control access to websites deemed inappropriate and monitor the influx of information from abroad.  

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is concerned about the increasing number of political messages conveyed online, criticising the government and defaming the monarchy, the source said.

The plan is designed to target websites with domains that are registered abroad, which the Thai government cannot order closed down, the source added.
Information Warfare & National Security 

The flow of information in any country is a matter of national security. The very fact that those leading the current protest are nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) funded from abroad illustrate perfectly the concerns the Thai government has over the role of foreign interests in interfering with Thailand's domestic affairs. Organizations like Thai Netizen cited by the Bangkok Post are funded and directed by foreign interests and coordinate closely with other Thai-based, US State Department-funded NGOs like Prachatai. 

Together, these foreign funded NGOs and opposition political parties created and perpetuated by these same foreign interests have mired Thailand in over a decade of political chaos, violent, terrorism, and unrest. The NGOs have provided rhetorical cover for political and armed groups to carry out their violence and sedition, and also mischaracterize Thailand's institutions and political order across Western media abroad. 

Image: Despite attempts by many US-funded NGOs to portray themselves as independent organizations, they are funded, directed, and supported directly by the US State Department and other foreign interests. They are dishonest, destructive lobbyists hiding behind the principles of activism, threatening their nation and the very principles they hide behind. Pictured above is a confab of future "Arab Spring" leaders being prepared in 2009 in the United States - a full 2 years before the "Arab Spring" would begin. 

The development of tools to go after these elements online is necessary in maintaining national security. However, developing such tools without also putting in place assurances they will not be abused, either by the current government or one ruled in the future by foreign-backed interests is of grave concern to many, even those who currently support the government. 

Fighting the Information War Smarter and More Effectively 

The Thai government must communicate clearly to the public, countering the US-funded backlash to the legislation - legislation which ironically looks tame compared to US measures to control the Internet (globally) - how and when these measures will be employed and what measures will be put in place to ensure they will not be abused.

However, more importantly, like Russia has done regarding NGOs and agents of sedition arrayed against it by Wall Street and Washington, new legislation can be developed to assure the public that only foreign-funded organizations and individuals engaged in criminal behavior will be targeted.

Thus, organizations like Thai Netizen, Prachatai, and others leading the current protest will be unable to hide behind the defense of privacy and instead forced to defend taking foreign cash to undermine the peace, stability, and sovereignty of Thailand itself. By better targeting those who seek to abuse the flow of information in Thailand the threat posed by the flow of information is mitigated and measures like a single gateway or the use of tools to monitor and constrict information flowing over it can be reserved for emergencies only.

Another option is to create indigenous alternatives to popular US and European Internet platforms. China and Russia have both effectively done this with replacements for everything from Google to Facebook not only displacing their Western competitors at home, but rivaling these platforms directing in size and influence.

Thailand, with its unique culture, language, and society, could easily turn such a method not only into an added enhancement for national security, but as another means of driving economic development and innovation within Thailand's borders. 

How Dangerous is Information Warfare?

Despite prevailing belief, the so-called "Arab Spring" was engineered by the United States years before it unfolded in 2011. As early as 2008, US-backed NGOs were drawn from across North Africa and the Middle East to New York City and Washington to receive training, equipment, and cash to then return to their respective countries and overthrow their governments. And while the US media maintained that these movements had "simultaneously" sprung up across the entire MENA region, it would eventually admit the role the US played in triggering the unrest. 

Image: The world must never forget where the "Arab Spring" finally led each and every country that was targeted by it - violence and bloodshed, with some like Libya being destroyed completely and others like Syria mired in unending proxy warfare. underwritten by the West.

The New York Times in its April 2011 article titled, "U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings," would finally admit that (emphasis added): 
A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
It would also admit that (emphasis added):
The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.
Of course, the so-called uprisings served as cover for an equally premeditated campaign of terrorism and proxy war which used the protests as an opportunity to attack police, military, and political targets across each targeted country. Those that fought back were destroyed - as seen in Libya and Syria.

And while this sober warning may seem to bolster the case of the Thai government regarding the control of information inside of Thailand, ultimately, while controlling the Internet might have helped disrupt the initial stages of the US-engineered "Arab Spring," targeted governments would have prevented it entirely if they simply created legislation making it more difficult, if not impossible, for foreign funded organizations and terrorists hiding behind political fronts within their borders to exist in the first place.

Furthermore, strict Internet control in fact existed in many of these targeted countries, but the US State Department provided it proxies with technology to circumvent it - technology that is easily employable and requires more effort to counter.

The New York Times would report in a June 2011 article, "U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors," that:  
The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks... 
...Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.
Such efforts prove that the threat prompting Thailand's government to act is not imagined. The United States has used the flow of information as a weapon against targeted nations it seeks to undermine and whose political orders it desires to change and control. 

A single Internet gateway and its use to defend the country requires strict but transparent legislation to ensure that it is not abused now or in the future. And since such measures, no matter how they are employed can still be circumvented, more effort must be placed on exposing and neutralizing those within Thailand aiding and abetting foreign interests posing such a threat.

Russia's recent NGO legislation has forced US State Department funding and directed fronts to openly and repetitively declare their foreign funding and to register as literal "foreign agents." By doing so, the illusion that they are independent evaporates, as does their credibility making it virtually impossible for them to gain or keep the trust of those they seek to manipulate and influence among the public. Similar legislation in Thailand, along with a campaign to raise greater awareness of how these NGOs operate and what their true agenda is may tip the balance in this information war in a way an Internet gateway could never hope to achieve.  

Another Unseen Opportunity

And finally - Thailand's government faces an opportunity every time an issue like this comes along. If they change tack and rethink unpopular or questionable policy, it serves as a perfect chance to prove they are not a "dictatorship." For them it allows them to undermine the premise of their opponents' complaints, and instead develop legislation that will be more effective and less controversial.