Climate of online fear

According to reports at various media, a small group of university students representing the Free Internet Society of Thailand demonstrated yesterday at Bangkok’s Art and Culture Center to oppose the revised computer crimes law as a violation of freedom of expression.

The junta was quick to responded to this violation of its “right” to repress everyone. The Nation reports that the junta’s puppet spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd “warned yesterday that protests against the newly amended Computer Crime Act could be deemed illegal and stir unnecessary conflicts in the country.”

He made a remarkable claim that involved a threat: “Authorities have measures, should there be any actions, from video recording to prosecuting following international rules…. Any tentative participants should think twice or stop such acts.”computer crime

We are unaware of the military dictatorship following “international rules” on anything.

In fact, the junta is “responding” to the massive petition that it ignored.

The Nation also reports that “operators of the Facebook page ‘Single Gateway: Thailand Internet Firewall #opsinglegateway’, which has attracted more than 120,000 likes, claimed to have attacked several government websites…”.

Lt Gen Sansern also “criticised the alleged hacking of state websites, saying the move went ‘beyond boundaries’, adding that such actions were among the reasons why computer-related laws needed to be reviewed.”

He lied that: “Every country has a universal rule of advising people about what websites are deemed critical to national security…”. As usual, the junta is mostly concerned by sites that it deems anti-monarchy and anti-junta.

The Nation also reports that the amended Article 14 of the Act will be “a powerful tool to muzzle public-welfare campaigners.” Legal eagles say that “activists and civil-society groups will face serious challenges protecting their rights and natural resources as the amended Computer Crime Act can be broadly enforced against them…”, suggesting the wider use of Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (SLAPP) cases.

SLAPP “lawsuits designates those that are intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics through punitive litigation.”

Section 2 of Article 14 “could be used as a legal mechanism allowing private companies or authorities conducting projects that harm the environment or people’s livelihoods to punish opposition campaigners who use the Internet.”

A lawyer for the Community Resources Centre said “activists would work in a more hostile atmosphere with the fear of prosecution severely diminishing the rights of ordinary people and the protection of public resources.” He stated that:

This law will make campaigning and communication online harder, as people fear to post or share anything on the Internet. We have to admit that the online world provides a vital platform for campaigners to communicate with society and bring public attention to their problems….

She added that ordinary people would be at risk of prosecution as well, as Section 4 of Article 14 stipulated that anyone who shares “distorted” information on the Internet could also be liable, which would encourage self-censorship.

Control, surveillance, threat and censorship are the junta’s tools.

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