Cyber law

Thailand’s Cyber Law Raises Fear Military Could ‘Cage’ the Internet

A cyber-security bill introduced simply weeks ahead of Thailand’s first democratic election for the reason that a 2014 military coup has stoked worries that it is able to be used as a weapon to stifle political dissent. Critics say the broad and vague language inside the Cyber Security Bill — exceeded via the united states of America’s unelected lawmakers on Feb. 28 — may additionally give the modern-day navy government powers to capture statistics and electronic system without proper criminal oversight. The law will come into effect once it is posted in the Royal Gazette, the timing of which is uncertain. A cartoon by using Thai nameless satirist CartoonEggCatX.Source: CartoonEggCatX “This law’s intention is simple: to position the internet in a cage,” said Katherine Gerson, a Thailand researcher at Amnesty International. “Authorities have already penalized rankings of journalists, politicians, activists, lecturers and college students beneath vaguely worded regulation — this new regulation would entrench the stifling political climate cultivated through the military government.” The new regulation risks, in additio ton, eroding free speech in a nation that’s already imprisoned hundreds of human beings over the past decade for political statements and insults to the royal family. Technology organizations including Apple Inc. And Facebook Inc. Have additionally warned via an industry foyer group that it’d empower authorities to secret agent on maximum internet site visitors. Thailand isn’t on my own in tightening oversight of the net and social media. Last 12 months, the government of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak added a faux information regulation that becomes used to probe his chief opponent Mahathir Mohamad. After Mahathir turned into elected in May he attempted to repeal the invoice but changed into thwarted via the opposition-led Senate. India, which holds countrywide elections subsequent month, is likewise attempting to stem the spread of incorrect information on Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp. “We supply high importance to cyber protection and cyber threats, those measures are most effective to be used when there’s an real threat to national balance,” Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak, a government spokesman stated in a smartphone interview. “If you’re just a normal commercial enterprise working here with transparency and precise conduct, this law wouldn’t have an effect on you.”

Heavy Users Social media is anticipated to play a heavy function beforehand of Thailand’s March 24 countrywide ballot, injecting a brand new dynamic into a rustic with an unstable history of elections, unrest, and army putsches. More than three-quarters of Thailand’s sixty-nine million humans are net users and the Southeast Asian country ranks 0.33 globally for the maximum time consistent with a day spent browsing the net, in step with We Are Social and Hootsuite records. Thailand is the 7th biggest marketplace for Facebook users worldwide, with eighty-four percent of the overall populace at the platform. In the occasion of a cyber threat to national safety, the brand new bill permits a watchdog committee headed by means of the prime minister to seize computer systems, servers, and statistics without a court docket order, in line with the brand new model of the law published at the Senate’s internet site. The government’s declaration has now not reassured era organization lobbyists, who’ve spoken out in opposition to the brand new law. The Asia Internet Coalition, an industry agency that represents groups inclusive of Alphabet Inc., Amazon.Com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook and Twitter Inc., said an announcement on the day the law became surpassed the bill might supply the navy regime “sweeping powers to monitor site visitors online” beneath a “loosely-described national protection agenda.” It will even enhance the navy government’s powers under the existing Computer Crimes Act. In the five years since it came to electricity, the junta has filed over 60 charges, on issues starting from the book of a whistle-blowing record on human rights in Thailand to the posting of content material on Facebook. Many instances cross undocumented but and the quantity is an idea to be a whole lot better, said Yingcheep Atchanong, a program manager at iLaw, a Bangkok-based totally employer that works on troubles regarding freedom of expression and civil and political rights. ‘Differing Opinions’ “If the regulation is used strictly for cyber assaults then it’s applicable,” said Yingcheep. “However, the government usually makes use of the excuse of national stability in a political way, in addition to attack people with differing critiques.” That’s the concern for military critics along with Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a rich person-grew to a become-high ministerial candidate for the anti-junta Future Forward Party. Thananthron is presently dealing with costs of spreading false statistics underneath the Computer Crime Act, added with the aid of a member of the military authorities. His celebration closing week was hit with any other charge of spreading fake information online, punishable underneath the same regulation, a fee they plan to contest. “The Computer Crimes Act has been used as a political device to prosecute human beings in our united states once they speak out,” Thanathorn stated. “I fear the same with this cybersecurity regulation. It’s now not to protect us, however to silence us.”

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