New Cyber Bill rushed through

Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly approved a controversial law this week which could seriously effect how Thailand’s internet users use the web. The main effect of the bill is to outlaw any attempt at bypassing government censors to access any of the thousands of sites that have been censored due to their moral or political purposes.

This single law could put Thailand in the same category as China and Burma with regards to censorship and the lack of a democratic right for free speech.

The bill sailed through its third reading on Wednesday by a vote of 119 to 1. It requires royal endorsement before it can be formally enacted into law. 

The bill regards as a crime the intention to withhold internet protocol (IP) addresses and violators are subject to severe punishment, according to the NLA special committee assigned to scrutinise the law. 

The IP is a unique address used to identify computer users while communicating with others on the network. However, the committee said, “ill-intentioned users” often hide or falsify their computer addresses so that they can easily carry out illegal acts and get away with them. 

The committee believed tighter controls on IP addresses would help tackle the root cause of cyber problems. 

Penalties apply to all illegal acts using the internet, including those carried out abroad and deemed to “damage the country both directly and indirectly”.

What worries me here is that the people that be have admitted they hardly use the Internet or even know what it is for, so have they consulted the international community for advice or decided that IP address control is the only way to go.

The level of abuse that this bill could be vulnerable to is staggering. If “someone” decides that a political parties website is deemed threatening, the site would be banned. Another worrying part of the bill is “The bill regards as a crime the intention to withhold internet protocol (IP) addresses”
If this single rule is enacted and someone charged under it, Thailand is now on par with China and Burma for censorship and lack of a democratic process.

The technologies which seem to fall under this “bypassing government censors” are:

– Secure Shell
– Virtual Private Networks (VPN) used by millions of companies here in Thailand
– IPSec (again used by many with Windows Networks)

I really hope His Majesty stops this bill from going ahead with such strong restrictions on the public. He is a champion of Human Rights in Thailand and this seems to be against everything he stands for.

What are your thoughts?

Kitty showed me this online petition to get this law dropped

4 Comments so far

  1. till (unregistered) on May 10th, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

    With laws like that, I’d say it’s time to move somewhere else.

  2. arvin (unregistered) on May 11th, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

    Hmm. Blogging as a crime.

    Toronto’s a nice city. =0)

  3. Hafiz (unregistered) on May 13th, 2007 @ 3:54 pm

    Come to KL. We would be more than happy to accommodate more bloggers! =p

  4. CJ Hinke (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2007 @ 7:33 pm

    The cybercrime bill was not exactly “rushed through”. In fact, it’s been on the back burner for four govt administrations and two coups d’etat, since 1997! They just happened to find a (military-appointed) legislature uninformed and naive enough about cyberissues.

    Much of what activist groups are doing here may now be considered civil disobedience. For example, Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) posts the secret MICT blocklist to its website and provides circumvention software and anonymous proxy information.

    I think we’ll have to see how the law is enforced and, even then, there are sure to be legal and Constitutional challenges to play out in Thai courts. Thailand is a master at positive spin and I think govt will tread fairly softly so as not to be labelled another Burma.

    The really Orwellian part is that govt will keep this law in the closet to scare the Thai public into toeing the line. Our best hope is to get the law declared unConstitutional when our next Constitution is promulgated this year.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.