Believe it or not

The military dictatorship’s usual pattern when dealing with “conspiracies” is to quickly “capture,” parade “ringleaders” and declare a “network” of “conspirators.” Usually the “conspirators” are declared to be directed by “leaders” overseas.

Since the 2014 military coup, this has been the standard operating procedure for the police and military. People go to jail and little more is heard of their cases or of the supposed conspiracy or network.

With the the passage of the amended and draconian computer crimes law, there were repeated cyber-attacks on easy targets – usually government, police and military websites or databases – the junta went into a bit of a spin. Military cyber warriors were ordered to capture those responsible.

As expected, within days, they had arrested up to nine perpetrators. The announcement was made by deputy premier General Prawit Wongsuwan who called the press together and paraded one “suspect.” It was the military that “arrested” the “suspects.”

PPT has to admit that these speedy arrests immediately caused us to be skeptical. After all, if the military and junta can’t protect their websites and databases even in the most basic ways, why would we believe that they can quickly capture the hackers?

A second thing that caused skepticism is that the country’s police chief has decided to bring attention to himself by taking charge of the “investigation.” That maneuver is usually a dead giveaway that this is a performance rather than an investigation.

A third reason for being skeptical was provided by the police chief, Police General Chakthip Chaijinda, who stated that 19 year-old Natdanai Khongdee was capable of the attacks, saying, “Natdanai was knowledgeable about technology since he had dropped out of a technical college in Bangkok’s Khlong Sam Wa district.” If accurate, this claim hardly seems credible.

The not so bright police added that Natdanai was not just hacking government websites, but was “allegedly in possession of two pistols, a rifle, two gun frames, ammunition, three compressed bars of marijuana and computer sets and accessories when apprehended.” Such claims seem to paint a picture of a “suspect” who does not fit the usual profile – if there is one – of “public interest” hackers.

We may never know the truth of the matter, but waiting to see if the cases just fade away will be telling of another beat-up by the military dictatorship.

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