presented in The 11th National Congress on Political Science and Public Administration (of Thailand) at College of Politics and Governance, Mahasarakham University, Thailand. November 25-26, 2010.
In every society, technologies involved penetratively in daily life of people are always political inherence. Power embedded within its structure significantly shaped human activities, especially political ones. Nevertheless, social and political research on such topic is hardly found in Thai academic circle.
This article investigates structural power of internet technological system in Thailand. Historical research is conducted focusing on the period of 1990s―when the internet was introduced into Thailand ― and the coup d’ etat in 2006 which marked the crossroad of Thai internet system. Two important phenomena involved the coup event:
(1) internet has an important political role in anti-Thaksin government phenomenon;
(2) the Computer Crime Act. B.E.2550 was passed to change the structural power of Thai internet dramatically. Research method is comprised of examine primary and secondary document, and in-depth interview with key informants.
In this study, Thai internet was analysed through the matrix of technology and power. The internet technology was examined through three layers (row): infrastructure layer, access layer, and content layer. Structural power of internet was investigated within three dimensions (column): technological structure, ownership or authorship, and institutional dimension.
By these frameworks, the research found that in term of technological structure and ownership/authorship, the content layer of Thai internet is least centralized and monopolized. Whereas access layer is much more, and infrastructure layer is the most.
For institutional dimension, the power exercises in style of formal and informal one. Regarding the formal style of power, internet content is the most layer which was intervened from the power, especially in the form of censorship and web block. Three major bureaus are Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Cyber-Inspector, and Department of Public Relation. However, there is a ‘check and balance’ system using the judicial system, such as the Civil Court, the Administrative Court, and the Constitutional Court. Concerning the informal institutional power, it exercises in the form of influences and pressures and appeared mainly on the internet access layer. The power embedded within the structure of Thai internet technological system explained above played its significant role in the anti-Thaksin government phenomenon during 2005-2006.
Keywords: Internet Technology / Structural Power / Anti-Thaksin government phenomenon (2005-2006)