The order is contained in a letter signed by Pracha Taerat, the ministry's deputy permanent secretary, and sent to all provincial governors on Friday. It asks them to inform their subordinates and make sure they comply with the new regulation. Each letter had a document attached summarising statistics on internet use in the ministry’s offices from early this year.
According to the letter, ministry officials will be barred from visiting Facebook from 8.30am to noon and from 1pm to 4.30pm. Certain other unidentified websites offering audio-visual downloads that are "useless to bureaucratic work" will also be blocked.Ministry officials began investigating the problem recently after encountering transmission problems while holding video conferences, said Manrat Rattanasukonj, director of the information technology and communication centre in the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Interior.The ministry makes heavy use of video conferencing for meetings with its agencies in the provinces and also with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Government House. An examination found widespread use of YouTube and live chat via Facebook at ministry offices had eaten up a large amount of the internet bandwidth supposedly set aside for holding live video conferences. After Oct 1, YouTube will still be accessible [for ministry officials] as usual, "but we will make the download speed [of the content] slower", Mr Manrat said. "For the ministry's routine monthly meetings, the dates have been set. But for extra conferences, it is unpredictable to tell when," he added."If the prime minister wants to hold a live video meeting with a provincial governor, we must be ready at all times to avoid a repeat of the problem."