The Thai government is planning to block websites that it deems to be insulting to the royal family.


The Information Ministry is planning to build a firewall to ban internet pages which they consider offensive to the hugely popular monarchy after receiving several complaints. The government plans to spend millions of dollars erecting the digital blockade around the country to prevent Thailand's internet users from accessing around 1,000 of the controversial sites.


Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said he has assigned relevant agencies, particularly the ICT Ministry, to take strong action against offenders. BBC Bangkok correspondent Jonathan Head says he believes the firewall is a response to pressure from the army to stamp out criticism of the monarchy.


The country's royal family are supposed to be above politics and are protected by strict laws which prohibit criticism.


The firewall could also be used to block other sites deemed appropriate, including those promoting terrorism or featuring pornography.