Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
The Thai military government in its continued strategy to cover up matters it does not want the public to know about, not least of which are its hands in the till style government while supposedly clamping down on corruption, continues to clamp down on freedom of expression.

Its rather humourless leader General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who unfortunately in the west is still best known for his comments after the murder and rape of British backpacker Hannah Witheridge - when he said of western women "Can they be safe in bikinis ... unless they are not beautiful?" has been shoring up the Computer-Related Crime Act.

This somewhat flies in the face of his recent assertion that Thailand would soon join the ranks of the First World.  Here's today's take from Human Rights Watch.

(New York, December 21, 2016) – Thailand’s new Computer-Related Crime Act (CCA) gives overly broad powers to the government to restrict free speech, enforce surveillance and censorship, and retaliate against activists, Human Rights Watch said today. Despite concerns expressed by civil society, business, and diplomatic representatives, the controversial law was unanimously adopted on December 16, 2016, by the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly.

“The adoption of the Computer-Related Crime Act drastically tightens the chokehold on online expression in Thailand,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Hundreds of activists have been prosecuted since the May 2014 coup for exercising their freedom of expression online, and these latest amendments will make it even easier for the junta to punish its critics.”

Before the law was passed, more than 300,000 people signed a petition demanding that the National Legislative Assembly reject the controversial amendments, which they saw as an infringement of privacy and freedom of expression on the Internet.

Thailand has an obligation to protect human rights, but it is moving in the opposite direction, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly raised concerns that Thai authorities, private companies, and individuals often retaliate against those reporting alleged human rights violations by filing defamation lawsuits, accusing activists and victims of making false statements.

Since the May 2014 coup, the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta has arrested and filed computer crime charges under the old 2007 CCA against numerous critics who posted commentary on Facebook and other social media platforms, alleging corruption by junta leaders. Articles 14(1) and (2) of the new law provide grounds for the government to prosecute anything they designate as “false” and, in the case of article 14(1), “distorted” information, terms which are likely to be open to abuse as past prosecutions have shown.

The new CCA is also likely to increase censorship due to its ambiguity, Human Rights Watch said, because of the broad grounds for offenses “likely to cause damage to the public” under article 14, including “false or partially false” data, “distorted or partially distorted” data, or data likely to “cause public panic” or harm “maintenance of national security, public safety, national economic security, public infrastructure serving the public interest.” Service providers such as social media platforms and access providers will also be required to delete or otherwise prevent the availability of such content following government notification, or they will also be subject to punishment for that content.

Furthermore, new provisions under articles 16/1 and 16/2 state that the court can order information that is found to be false and having caused damage to other persons or the public to be removed from the Internet and deleted from computer systems. If these articles are enforced arbitrarily, such actions will have dire consequences on research and reporting on contentious topics of public concern, including incidents related to serious state-sponsored rights violations, such as the 2003 “drugs war,” the 2010 violent political confrontations, and abusive counterinsurgency operations in the southern border provinces.

Under newly amended article 20(3) of the CCA, even content online that is not illegal can be banned and ordered to be deleted by the court based on a request from a computer data screening committee, appointed by the Minister of Digital Economy and Society, stating the the content is considered to be against public order or good morals of the people. The precedent of interpretation by authorities that are neither judicial nor independent from the executive has troubling implications for human rights reporting. After the May 2014 coup, the government blocked the Human Rights Watch Thailand webpage for containing information that was considered by authorities to be “inappropriate.”

The government’s interest in using the new law to suppress criticism was indicated on December 15, 2016, when Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha gave a media interview stressing the need for authorities to have a tool to act against online content considered to be critical and offensive to the monarchy. Criticizing the monarchy is a serious criminal offense in Thailand. In most cases, convictions of those charged with lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) result in harsh sentences. Since the May 2014 coup, Thai authorities have charged at least 68 people with lese majeste, mostly for posting or sharing comments online.

Privacy of online communication is also seriously under threat under the new CCA amendments, Human Rights Watch said. The amendments expand data collection and other investigatory powers under the act by granting their use in any criminal offense under other laws that involve the use of computer systems, computer data, or devices for carrying out the offense. Service providers may be required to retain user data for up to two years in unspecified special cases, an increase from the previous requirement of up to one year. The new articles 18(2) and (3) continue to allow authorities to access “traffic data” and other user-related data without a court order to assist their investigation of an offense under the CCA or other laws. Article 18(7) also allows authorities with a court order to potentially compel service providers to assist with decrypting encoded data, raising concerns that the law could undermine the use of encryption tools that protect cybersecurity and the privacy of users.

The government has shown an increasingly aggressive attitude toward critics of the CCA. The spokesman of the Prime Minister’s Office, Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, told media on December 18 that people who participated in any form of protest against the CCA could be prosecuted for causing public disturbances. Two days earlier, the Army Cyber Center warned that posting or sharing online commentary that criticizes the CCA could be considered false information and result in prosecution.

“Under this draconian law, Internet users will have to look over their shoulders when going online,” Adams said. “The Thai military government has now given itself sweeping power to monitor, search, and acquire information, invading people’s privacy on a massive scale.”


The RatShit Kid said...

One wonders how much of all the information contained in this article is ever disseminated to tourists to the Kingdom.
Oh I'm sure the average tourist, especially the sexpat variety, are not the slightest bit interested in human rights violations in Thailand, but one would like to think the information is easily made available to those who are interested in such matters.

Steam Punk said...

whoa....disturbing news. The continuing downward spiral in human rights developmentin Thailand is a reaction from the thai institution wanting to hide the truth of their corruption from the world. Thailand is regressing, literally going backwards. This strategy will obviously ultimately fail Thailand but they are only planning for today....tomorrow is a distant dream. Worse than communism.

D. Farang said...

"Can they be safe in bikinis ... unless they are not beautiful?"

Looks like the leader was ultra-spoiled, dutifully fawned upon by the extended family like most Thai boys are - and never learned to take no for an answer..

The leader has more in common with Donald J. Trump than he'll ever know..


Faux Entitlement 101

D. Farang said...

Never think for a second that the Thai military is not around for the long run, unlike the much repeated company line.

(MAKING AMERICA "GRATE" AGAIN is also finding out that a 2 party system tears apart a nation - a military government may be just around the corner)

And on the Dinner Menu for today we have three choices, white rice, plain rice - or if you prefer - new rice..

Take your pick.


Don't mess with the rice bowl

Drew Noyse is a convicted criminal. said...

Even criticizing the CCA is against the CCA......thats been sewn up very nicely.

Baa Loy Yet Mae said...

The new King needs strong LM laws for a reason. YouTube and Google don't forget.

leave Thailand to the Thais said...

The answer is NOT A LOT. I Have spoken to 100s visiting Thailand who have not even heard about David and Hannah

Megalodon said...

That is dreadful. Absolutely dreadful. Of course I believe you - but this state of affairs should not be allowed to happen.
I would suggest that ALL tourists and visitors to Thailand be subject to an exam upon arrival, based on information which could be supplied to them as part of compulsory "in-flight" reading material.
Such topics as David & Hannah, Thai corruption, Thai scams etc would be on the syllabus.
Failure in the exam would result in the refusal of a visa or cancellation of an existing visa.
I somehow think that the authorities do not have the cojones to implement such an arrangement.

Dick Headley said...

Bikinis on the beach in daytime? No problem. Girls alone on the beach in bikinis at night after a few drinks? Very bad idea.

leave Thailand to the Thais said...

The only exam needed to enter Thailand should be neurologicalu based.
Until Foreign Governments slap sanctions on these countries that let foreign criminals hide behind self made computer laws and criminal activities then there is no solution. There are no Government guidlines other than don't visit deep South Muslim areas. No warnings of police corruption, Thai rapists, foreign scams.etc etc.THIS IS WHAT THE BBC SHOULD EXPOSE..THAI CORRUPTION WAS EXPOSED A LONG TIME AGO...Foreign policies is the real need for exposure

leave Thailand to the Thais said...

Foreigners who have any incident should at all costs avoid getting the police involved due to the fact they will 99% end up paying a massive fee and if refuse they will end up in a call on a trumped up charge.
Rape victims and woman without full winter type clothing will be blamed for Asking for it.

Megalodon said...

I don't suppose for ONE MINUTE that AD has the cojones to publish the sort of comment which one would like to see written about the Thai ruling military junta which I have posted.
AD is a pussy who has NO balls.
He is absolutely shit scared, absolutely petrified, at posting ANYTHING which criticises the ruling junta.
He hasn't got the balls he was born with.
Why can you not, AD, why WILL you not, AD, post comments which basically tell the world that the Thai ruling junta are a bunch of shits?
I'll tell you why AD.
Because you are a gutless, spineless bastard who exercises a form of censorship which, if I had my way, would never be allowed.
We neither want nor need your sort around here, AD

The RatShit Kid said...

But my response to this point is...why?
Why should foreigners have to avoid getting the Police involved in any incident, lest they are 99% likely to end up paying a massive fee?
Why should they have to pay this massive fee?
And if they refuse to pay, why should they end up in a call ("cell"??) on a "trumped up charge?"
Why, why, why??
Why are the Thais allowed to get away with this sort of behaviour?
What you' describe runs counter to civilized behaviour in most (if not all) 1st world countries.
Why are the Thais allowed to get away with this savage, uncivilized behaviour?

Andrew Drummond said...

Well your comment reprinted below does not really get us anywhere and is rather typical of stuff it is really is not necessary to publish no matter how sympathetic I might be to the sentiment.

"Just look at this lugubrious piece of vermin. This so-called Thai "General."
Just who the hell does piece of crap think he is?
Putrescence - nothing more, nothing less.
Lock this piece of vermin up and throw away the key.
Dirty, disgusting piece of filth. "

Steam Punk said...

"Just look at this lugubrious piece of vermin. This so-called Thai "General." AGREED
Just who the hell does piece of crap think he is? EXACTLY / AGREED
Putrescence - nothing more, nothing less. AGREED, i think...not sure what Putrescence means...555
Lock this piece of vermin up and throw away the key. INDEED, hold him accountable, he should be working at 7-11 or driving a baht bus.
Dirty, disgusting piece of filth AGREED, greedy, lazy, phoney....etc.

leave Thailand to the Thais said...

Having lived there for 9 years and seeing this same scenario over and over I ask myself the same question and there is one simple answer...Because people like our own Government put profit and gave agreements before human life

Dick Headley said...

I can't count how many times I've heard farang say 'there are no rules in Thailand', 'you can pay your way out of trouble'. The laissez-faire attitude is very attractive....until reality sets in.

soiCzar said...

"Why are the Thais allowed to get away with this savage, uncivilized behaviour?"

Answer: Because of rampant & widespread corruption and no mechanisms for accountability, (on a macro level), endemic thru all levels, encouraged, promoted, managed by the greedy parasitic thai establishment.

Trollmeister General said...

You are so right Steam Punk.
I'm very happy to see that you are in agreement with me.
Best wishes