An Internet freedom group in Thailand has warned that the military government’s Cyber Security bill will threaten Internet privacy for everyone in Thailand.
Internet freedom in Thailand
The Cyber Security Act (Thai) would mean that Thai authorities would be able to access any private computer systems without a warrant.
Here’s a link to download the draft Cyber Security Act in English.
“We are not saying that the state can’t have the power to deal with online crimes that have been increasing in the present time,” said Arthit Suriyawongkul, head of the Thai Netizen Network. “But too much power will lead to a violation of privacy”.
The Thai Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has already said he would push a draft of the bill, which giving authorities the authority to monitor the Internet in the interests of national cyber security.
Today there are few requirements for officials to require search warrants, or indeed any punishments for officials whose actions cause damage. Arthit said the new bill looks more like method of surveillance favoured by national security agencies around the world.
Arthit has said the Thai Netizen network will send a letter of protest against the act to the National Reform Council (NRC) in the near future. The act authorises Thai officials to “access any channel of information and communication, including mails, telegrams, telephones, fax, computer, or any other type of electronic and telecommunication equipment”.
The draft legislation was already approved by the Thai Cabinet earlier this month and is now pending a vote by the National Legislative Assembly. The Prime Minister of Thailand has said that “I will pass it. You have a problem with that? Otherwise, why the hell am I the Prime Minister? Why am I the Prime Minister?”
Apparently Thailand needs more strict laws on the Internet, in order to deal with criticism of the monarchy by websites in other countries, where the Thai authorities have no jurisdiction.
“We can’t shut them down. Foreigners don’t have the same laws that we do,” said Gen. Prayuth. “So why don’t we make our country peaceful and safe? Our country is not like their countries. Thai people are not like farangs. We eat rice. They eat bread. It’s totally different.”
One of the current pieces of legislation already in effect is the Computer Crime Act, which has a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a 100,000 baht fine. It outlaws use of any computer system which affects national security, spreads false information, or damages the “good morality of the people.”
Are you concerned about Internet freedom in Thailand, or anywhere else for that matter? Let us know in the comments what you think about the proposed act.