Thai government lifts YouTube ban


BANGKOK, Thailand -- A five-month ban of YouTube in Thailand was lifted by the government Friday after the Google-owned video-sharing site promised swift removal of any content considered offensive to the Thai king.

The popular site was blocked in April when a user posted a video making fun of Thailand's long-serving monarch, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Thai Ministry of Information and Communications Technology shut down access to the site in accordance with strict laws against insulting the king, a widely venerated figure in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Sittichai Pookaiyaudom, the ICT Minister, began promising the site's restoration in May, but it remained blocked until Friday morning, two days after he met with Google deputy general counsel Nicole Wong in Bangkok.

Pookaiyaudom said that Wong assured him that YouTube will be able to remove swiftly any videos disparaging the king.

"Technically they weren't able to do it before," Pookaiyaudom said. "We had been checking every day, and there was some confusion. Now they have solved the problem, so we opened it up."

Pookaiyaudom said his meeting with Wong lasted five minutes.

"There was nothing to negotiate. We had the agreement already, we were waiting for them to fix it, and really, we were sick of checking," he said.

Neither Google nor YouTube was available for comment. Before its restoration, some YouTube fans in Thailand had skirted the ban by accessing proxy Web sites that redirect blocked pages to unblocked Web addresses.