There had been some hopes, harbored by the more optimistic, that the draconian provisions of the post-2006 coup Computer Crimes Act might be liberalized. That hope seems to have turned to despair, according to a long report in the Bangkok Post. The conservatives are well out in front on this.
The story now seems bleaker than ever. More cyber-snooping, more censorship, less attention to human rights, more charges and, potentially, more people in the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s prisons.
Supinya Klangnarong, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform, says that conservatives want “more severe punitive measures against so-called national security threats…”. She adds: “We believe that pushing for amendments to the law in parliament now means risking it being changed in the opposite direction, leaning towards harsher punishment for violation by internet users…”.
Conservatives like the prime minister have “thrown … support behind a so-called ‘online scout project’ to monitor improper content on the internet which poses a threat to national security and the highest institution.” This is a vigilante movement for the monarchy, being the middle class and internet generation’s equivalent of the right-wing Village Scouts.
Within the Senate, a panel dominated by the appointed senators “has been formed for the specific task of protecting the monarchy and monitoring anti-monarchy movements…”. Meanwhile, the “police are also setting up a special force to monitor online actions deemed in violation of the act…”.
Things can only to worsen as this government continues to be led and dominated by conservatives and royalists.
Update: 2bangkok.com has a picture posted (scroll down to the second picture for 31 July) that adds considerable visual weight to the idea that the conservatives are fully in command of internet censorship and that things are likely get worse. In the picture of a huge billboard, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is pictured apparently reporting an inappropriate web site. The billboard calls for Thais to come together in reporting inappropriate web sites. This could refer to all kinds of sites but the fact is that most sites the regime blocks have to do with the monarchy. Most people know the message means “protect the monarchy.” Abhisit has thrown his weight behind this task and encourages vigilantes.