Junta chief hits back at web cen­sor­ship crit­ics

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Thai­land’s junta chief yes­ter­day de­fended amend­ments to a cy­ber se­cu­rity law that boosts cen­sor­ship pow­ers, slam­ming so­cial me­dia as a hot­bed of im­moral­ity that needs polic­ing. Changes agreed to last week broaden the scope of the Com­puter Crime Act, which hands up to five years in prison for any­one found guilty of shar­ing “dis­torted” in­for­ma­tion on­line.

The tough­ened law has drawn a strong back­lash in so­cial-me­dia ob­sessed Thai­land, with par­tic­u­lar alarm pro­voked by the cre­ation of a new com­mit­tee to flag web­sites that breach “pub­lic morals”. Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-O-Cha hit back yes­ter­day, say­ing the dan­gers of ac­cess to an un­fet­tered in­ter­net mer­ited new reg­u­la­tion.

“The gov­ern­ment will not watch all the time for some­one to make a mis­take...(it) will only con­sider con­tent that could make so­ci­ety un­sta­ble,” the 62year-old for­mer gen­eral told re­porters. “I would like to ask you back, you who spend much more time on so­cial me­dia than me, do you see the dan­gers from it? Il­le­gal drugs sales, pornog­ra­phy, in­ap­pro­pri­ate words, defama­tion, dis­torted in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

Prayut’s gov­ern­ment, the most au­thor­i­tar­ian Thai­land has seen in more than a decade, has harshly cracked down on on­line dis­sent since its 2014 power grab. Amend­ments to the bill, which still need for­mal ap­proval from the king, have prompted a slew of cy­ber at­tacks against gov­ern­ment web­sites, with ac­tivists tem­po­rar­ily crash­ing some web pages. The junta had al­ready leaned heav­ily on the ex­ist­ing Com­puter Crime Act.

Ac­cord­ing to watch­dog For­tify Rights, there have been at least 399 prose­cu­tions un­der the com­puter law in 2016 com­pared to 46 in 2013, the year be­fore the junta grabbed power. The junta has also ramped up its use of a dra­co­nian royal defama­tion law that pun­ishes crit­i­cism of the monar­chy with up to 15 years in prison per of­fence. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.