Seeking safety in cyberspace

31 05 2020

At Quartz, there’s discussion of efforts to find safety on line. By “safety” is meant avoiding visits from the police and military for what one reads and writes online.

It begins by quoting Sarinee Achavanuntakul, an independent commentator and associated with the Thai Netizen Network, who discarded Twitter: “Say goodbye to Twitter and meet at Minds.”

Many are now “wary and distrustful of Twitter over a recent string of developments on the platform that sparked privacy concerns.”

After Facebook became unsafe, patrolled by state and reporting to authorities, with several arrested and charged with lese majeste, Thais turned to Twitter.

Now, they worry about Twitter:

The most proximate cause was an update to the platform’s privacy policy on May 19, set to take effect globally next month, allowing Twitter to share device-level data like a user’s IP address with business partners. The policy update came just days after Twitter launched an official Twitter Thailand account, with an accompanying blog post noting that Twitter has partnered with local NGOs and the government. To Thai Twitter users, that was a huge red flag, sparking fears that incriminating user information could be shared with the government.

Sarinee said the “newly set up official Twitter Thailand account was ‘very tone deaf, boring… using official language’…”. For many, when a Twitter spokesperson said the company is “committed to serving an open and public conversation in Thailand and will continue to be transparent” it sounded something like an admission that it is now working with the repressive state.

The, in February, “a Thai Twitter user was arrested for allegedly posting a tweet that insulted the monarchy. It was the first arrest directly linked to a tweet…”. Other users, some of them critical of the monarchy, began to get “visits” from the authorities.

Some users have turned to Minds. It is described this way:

Minds has become popular for its commitment to privacy, decentralization, optional anonymity, radical transparency, free speech, and user rewards in contrast to the surveillance, secrecy, censorship, and algorithm manipulation occurring on many proprietary social networks.

Updated: Control and surveillance

25 12 2016

The puppet National Legislative Assembly’s dutiful passing of amendments to the computer crimes law came despite considerable opposition expressed in a giant petition.

The revised law expands the capacity of the military junta’s capacity to “protect” itself and the monarchy, there has been more opposition. Limited in so many ways by the junta’s repression, the opposition has involved hactivism, some brave demonstrations and more discussion.

A forum held today saw critics warning of the impacts of the law but also of the junta’s broader plans for greater control and surveillance.

Sarinee Achawanantakul of the Thai Netizen Network told the forum that several other draft bills, which will also be dutifully passed by the NLA, including the Cyber Security Bill and a radio frequency allocation bill, will expand the state’s control. Sarinee “said the government sector had an idea to control mainstream media.”

Its an important point.

The military dictatorship wants to control everything and oppress everyone. However, this is not new in any way. Rather, this is the “traditional” role of the “king’s servants.”

The civil and military bureaucracy has long allocated to itself the paternalist role, ensuring that the children-citizens are properly ordered. As with everything else the dictatorship does, this is rolling back the years and the political developments since 1992 that began to alter the relationship between the military-monarchy regime and its bureaucracy (amart) and the children-citizens (phrai).

Update: The Bangkok Post has an updated story on the forum.

Online censorship pressure

1 02 2016

A couple of days ago PPT posted on the military regime pressuring Google to censor without a court order. When we look back at that post we realize that we neglected to mention that the main area of concern was posts and videos about the monarchy. It goes without saying….

censorship-for-the-internetReuters reports that the military government is also trying to get more censorship out of Facebook and Line. The story is taken up at the Bangkok Post, saying that “[e]xecutives of the giant social media outlets … have been called to a meeting by the national reform assembly over monitoring and removing content considered a security threat to Thailand.” Yes, the monarchy.

While Reuters says the committee now says it is emphasizing content for which there is a court order, this is spin and the leaked document about Google made this clear. Nothing like trying to clean up after you’ve made a mess.

Arthit Suriyawongkul, a coordinator of the Thai Netizens Network advocacy group, says this attempt to have Google act is against Thai law: “Under the Computer Crime Act, if internet users post content suspected of violating the law, any accusations against them must be verified by a court before action is taken…”.

It seems that Thailand’s lawmakers don’t care too much about following the law.

Keeping the country orderly and organized

29 12 2015

The Nation has a couple of articles that look at the Computer Crimes law.

In the first article, Sarinee Achawanantakul, who is President of the Foundation of Internet and Civic Culture or the Thai Netizen Network, argues that “[p]ressing ‘like’ on a[n allegedly] defamatory message posted on Facebook is certainly not a crime…”.

Clicking “like” on a Facebook post, according to Sarinee,”… should not violate Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, which is meant to punish those who propagate false information regarding national security and stability, or information that pertains to obscenity. This is especially so as Facebook “prevents users from setting their preferences to control how their ‘likes’ are displayed or with whom they are shared.” In addition, “Facebook posts can always be edited by the person who posted the original message, and thus the full significance of ‘likes’ cannot always be conclusively evaluated.”Facebook-Like-Button

Seems reasonable to PPT, but not to the authorities who enforce this law and lese majeste. As Sarinee notes, in the current political climate, which is repressive, there is encouragement for “a biased interpretation of the law that results in unjust outcomes…”. In addition, Sarinee said “the Act’s current application is far beyond the original definition of the Act and therefore could be considered ‘dangerous’.”

The second article sets out an official view, and as would be expected, it is chilling. Police Colonel Olarn Sukkasem, said to be the superintendent of the Technology Crime Suppression Division, Central Investigation Bureau, and in charge of enforcing the Computer Crime Act, sees “likes” as identifying “social media conspirators.”

“Liking” defamatory content on Facebook sparks debate on whether acknowledging such posts should be considered a crime. On the one hand, authorities say the action is deemed as supporting dissent, but on the other, cyber-liberty advocates say Facebook “likes” only constitute support of the online record of a pre-existing act. “Liking” a message that turns out to be identified as “controversial or defamatory … on Facebook is certainly a crime as it shows support for the content.”Facebook-Dislike-Button

The colonel equates this action as “on par with cheering someone who has murdered a victim.”

Olarn warned that clicking “like” was “showing support for the content. If they perform any action regarding the message whatsoever … that are contributing to the message.” He views this as an act that “threatens national security and stability.”

The superintendent “admitted that the police have limited resources and they cannot arrest all wrongdoers in this context.” He said police:

… do prioritise their list of arrest warrants based on the actions of the suspects. For instance, if a thousand people ‘like’ an inappropriate post, but one among them also posts other defamatory photos or messages, that person would be arrested first…. The superintendent said in that case some people might be considered guiltier than others, although all of the thousand Facebook conspirators would be considered legally guilty…. Olarn added that the person who went to the trouble of adding other photos or messages would potentially be considered more “dangerous” than the others.

He admitted that Facebook-related arrests were unlikely in other countries where the Thai arrests were sen as “an extreme reaction…”. However, he said “critics of Thailand should not be oversensitive about the issue.”

Olarn “explained” that “Thai people had been used to limitless freedom, which had caused society to become disorganised. Something had to be done to stop people from exercising their free will without enough consideration about others…”. He added that the country’s “current socio-political situation is abnormal and stringent law enforcement in society is needed to keep the country orderly and organised…”.

He means repressed and suppressed.

Cyber-snooping enhanced

28 01 2015

Some readers will have followed the debates and progress of the various cyber security/digital economy laws that the military dictatorship is pressing through its various puppet organizations.

PPT hasn’t given these bills and laws enough attention, just through lack of time and the avalanche of lese majeste material we have to deal with. We did have a post about a week ago. There we wrote a bit about the bunch of laws that targets lese majeste under the guise of other laws.

Fortunately, Thai Netizen is working on these laws and has even provided translations to English of several of these laws. Do follow them.

Freedom House on internet censorship

28 09 2012

Freedom House has released its Internet Freedom report for 2012. Thailand ranks as unfree, along with China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Burma, and a few others. The report is long and detailed.

The report notes that although “the Thai government has been blocking some internet content since 2003, restrictions have expanded in recent years in both scale and scope.” Most of this is related to the monarchy. Before 2007 it says that most censorship was “pornography, online gambling, or circumvention tools, although some politically oriented websites were also found to be inaccessible.”

Since 2007, censorship “has grown exponentially, particularly those with content perceived as critical of the monarchy.” Figures are provided.

After 7 April 2010, the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, backed by the military blocked a “large number of websites focused on the opposition red-shirt movement…. These included individual YouTube videos, Facebook groups, and Google groups.”

The report notes that “less clearly partisan online news outlets or human rights groups, such as Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT), the online newspaper Prachatai, the Political Prisoners in Thailand blog, and Asia Sentinel” were blocked.

The advent of the “democratically elected government” of Yingluck Shinawatra dashed “hopes that the new government would loosen internet censorship…”. Again, sites about the monarchy have been the target.

It states that some sites “blocked in 2010 were accessible, including FACT and the Political Prisoners in Thailand” have become available. For PPT this is only partly true as blocking is off and on. Media “reports citing government officials, thousands of webpages have been added to the blacklist under the new administration.” However, it is unclear if censorship has actually increased.

The centrality of the monarchy to censorship regime is explained:

Despite [a]… constraining environment, outside of comments perceived as critical of the monarchy, most other areas of discussion on political, social, and human rights issues are freely and passionately debated in Thailand.

The report notes that:

While many blogs and discussion sites are blocked, users can access them with readily available circumvention software, and content producers often republish information on alternate sites. These techniques have undermined the MICT’s censorship efforts.

That’s true, and this is why PPT has a “mirror” at PP of T. We are further mentioned in another section of the report:

As internet freedom has come under growing pressure, online activists have organized to push back. The Political Prisoners in Thailand blog provides information on lèse-majesté prosecutions. The Thai Netizen Network (TNN) was founded in early 2009 to uphold users’ right to access, free expression, and privacy via public statements and other advocacy initiatives.

This is a most useful report, and highly recommended to readers.

Human rights groups speak against the denial of bail on lese majeste

16 02 2012

PPT has been harping on the point that the denial of bail for several people charged with lese majeste is a rejection of constitutional provisions and amounts to at least additional punishment and could be conceived as a form of torture.

We are pleased to note that several Thai human rights organizations have decided to speak out on exactly this point.

In a statement issued on 15 February 2012, the Human Rights Lawyers Association, Cross Cultural Foundation, Union for Civil Liberty, Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants, Foundation of Muslim Attorney Centre, Asian Institute for Human Rights, Community Resource Centre, Thai Netizen Network, Center for Child Development and Community Network, and Stateless Watch have deemed that “the right of an alleged offender or an accused to temporary release is a very pertinent issue in the criminal justice process.”

They state that:

1. The right to temporary release is a universal and fundamental right that should be accorded equally to all human beings….

The right to temporary release is prescribed for in Section 40(7) of the 2007 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand…. The … right to temporary release is a crucially important legal principle established in bother domestic and international laws. It is an obligation for all parties concerned to follow and implement on an equal basis….

2. Any exceptions made against the right to temporary release have to be based on extremely important circumstances and have to be accompanied by objective and credible evidence….

3. The Court is obliged to interpret the law according to the intent of the law and international standards to uphold human rights and the right to temporary release has to be realized in all cases….

4. Section 39 (2) and (3) of the Section 27 of the 2007 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand primarily upholds the presumed innocence principle.

In concluding, these groups affirm that:

prior to any final judgment … the treatment of the person as if he already committed an offense is not permitted. Therefore, as a result of the denial of bail request, the detention of Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and other alleged offenders or accused during the trial period together with other convicts whose final judgments have been reached is therefore a breach of the Constitutional provision.

Finally, these human rights organizations recommend that the courts grant Somyos and others in similar circumstances, be granted bail. They make an excellent case.

More lese majeste cases to come

10 09 2011

In a report in The Nation on the lese majeste and computer crimes trial of Prachatai’s Chiranuch Premchaiporn there is some grim news for those who have been hoping that the peak season of lese majeste charges may have been behind Thailand with the change of government to a less obviously royalist administration.

Prosecution witness Police Lieutenant Boonlert Kalayanamitr, who was the last witness from the prosecution, told reporters that he didn’t want to say much to the media “because giving interviews will affect the security and the Crown. It’s dangerous.” He did explain that “there were many cases still being pursued…”.

This seemed confirmed in broad terms by Sarinee Achavanuntakul, a key member of the Thai Netizen Network, who stated that “further crackdowns on lese majeste offenders would likely continue, especially ‘under a climate where all [political groups] are competing to become more royalist than others’.”

Updated: Thai Netizen Network statement on computer crimes

3 02 2011

Update: English version is here. Also see this overview of Chiranuch’s case.

รายงาน ความคืบหน้ากรณีศึกษาการสืบพยาน  “คดีอินเทอร์เน็ตกับภาระของตัวกลาง”

โดย เครือข่ายพลเมืองเน็ต

สืบเนื่องจากวันที่ 17 ตุลาคม   พ.ศ. 2553
พ.ศ.2550   ด้วยเหตุว่ากฎหมายฉบับนี้มีผลในการลิดรอนสิทธิเสรีภาพในการแสดงความคิดเห็นอันเป็นหลักการพื้นฐานของระบอบประชาธิปไตย

นอกจากนี้ ระหว่างสถานการณ์ทางการเมืองที่แหลมคมในช่วง 3 ปีที่ผ่านมา
เครือข่ายพลเมืองเน็ตพบว่า พ.ร.บ. คอมพิวเตอร์ฯ
โดยเฉพาะมาตราที่เป็นปัญหามากที่สุดคือ มาตรา 14 และ 15
หรือคิดต่างจากรัฐบาล ตัวอย่างหนึ่งที่ชัดเจนได้แก่
กรณีการจับกุมและตั้งข้อหาร้ายแรงกับจีรนุช เปรมชัยพร
( ถึงสองคดี โดยในคดีแรกนั้น
ตำรวจได้ตั้งข้อหากับจีรนุชว่ามีความผิดตามมาตรา 15 พ.ร.บ. คอมพิวเตอร์ฯ
มาตรา 112 ปรากฏอยู่ในเว็บบอร์ดประชาไท  อย่างไรก็ตาม
ซึ่งแสดงถึงเจตนาของจีรนุชว่ามิได้จงใจสนับสนุนการ กระทำผิดดังกล่าว
นอกจากนี้ ระยะเวลา 20 วันที่ตำรวจกล่าวอ้างว่าเป็นการ “จงใจ สนับสนุน
หรือยินยอม” ก็ยังไม่ได้มีกำหนดอยู่ในกฎหมายใด ๆ ทั้งสิ้น

เครือข่ายพลเมืองเน็นเห็นว่า คดีของจีรนุชชี้ให้เห็นถึงข้อบกพร่องของ
พ.ร.บ.คอมพิวเตอร์ฯ พ.ศ. 2550 มาตรา 15 ในหลายประเด็นสำคัญอาทิ

1. มาตรา 15 ปฏิบัติกับผู้ให้บริการ หรือ “ตัวกลาง” (intermediary: เช่น
ศูนย์ข้อมูล ผู้ให้บริการอินเทอร์เน็ต เสิร์ชเอนจิน โซเชียลเน็ตเวิร์ก
เว็บบอร์ด บล็อก) เสมือนหนึ่งเป็นบรรณาธิการของหนังสือพิมพ์
ข้อมูลทุกอย่างไหลผ่านอย่างรวดเร็ว ตัวกลางจึงเป็นเพียง “ท่อข้อมูล”
หรือช่องทางผ่านของเนื้อหาเท่านั้น (mere conduit)
นั่นย่อมหมายความว่า ตัวกลางจะต้องกลั่นกรองข้อมูลทั้งหมดก่อนการเผยแพร่

2. ตัวกลางกลายเป็น “แพะ”

ในการดำเนินคดีกับ “ตัวกลาง” ดังเช่นในคดีของจีรนุชทั้งสองคดีนั้น
และศาลชั้นต้นได้มีคำตัดสินไปเมื่อวันที่ 31 ม.ค.2554

จะมีการกำหนดข้อยกเว้นความรับผิด (safe harbour)

อย่างไรก็ตาม หลักการนี้ไม่ได้ให้เสรีภาพแก่ตัวกลางจนเกินขอบเขต
ทั้งนี้ต้องเป็นไปในระยะเวลาที่เหมาะสมตามที่กฎหมายกำหนด (notice and
take down procedures) เป็นต้น

ดังนั้นคดีของจีรนุช เปรมชัยพร และหนังสือพิมพ์ออนไลน์ประชาไท

เนื่องจากการสืบพยานในคดีสำคัญดังกล่าวนี้จะเริ่มต้นขึ้นในวันศุกร์ที่ 4
กุมภาพันธ์ พ.ศ.

ทั้งนี้ ศาลอาญาจะนัดสืบพยาน คดีที่ นางสาวจีรนุช เปรมชัยพร
เป็นจำเลยและสำนักงานอัยการพิเศษฝ่ายคดีอาญา 8 สำนักงานอัยการสูงสุดกรณี
เป็นโจทก์ฟ้อง ในคดีการเอาผิดกับตัวกลาง (Intermediary) ในข้อหาตาม
พ.ร.บ.คอมพิวเตอร์ฯ พ.ศ. 2550มาตรา 15



สืบพยานโจทก์    ในวันที่ 4, 8, 9, 10 กุมภาพันธ์   พ.ศ. 2554
ช่วงเวลา  9.00- 12.30  และ 13.30 – 16.00

สืบพยานจำเลย   ในวันที่ 11, 15, 16, 17 กุมภาพันธ์ พ.ศ. 2554  ช่วงเวลา
9.00- 12.30 และ 13.30 – 16.00

ที่ ศาลอาญา รัชดา ห้อง 801

ภูมิหลัง คดีกองปราบ

จีรนุช เปรมชัยพร
ซึ่งถูกกองปราบปรามจับกุมดำเนินคดีเมื่อวันที่ 6มีนาคม พ.ศ2552
ด้วยข้อกล่าวหาตาม พ.ร.บ.ว่าด้วยการกระทำความผิดเกี่ยวกับคอมพิวเตอร์
พ.ศ.2550 มาตรา 15 เนื่องเพราะไม่ได้ลบข้อความในเว็บบอร์ด


British MPs voice concern over Thai webmaster trial

Court drops internet lese majeste case

ข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม ติดต่อ:

ปกป้อง เลาวัณย์ศิริ    082-344-8724

เครือข่ายพลเมืองเน็ต Email:


Thai Netizen Network calls for changes to the Computer Crime Act

2 11 2010

On 1 November 2010, the Thai Netizen Network posted a statement (dated 17 October 2010) containing a comprehensive analysis of the 2007 Computer Crime Act and concrete calls for changes to be made to it. The statement opens by noting that even before the Act was made law, they “saw that the enforcement of this law would result in depriving people’s right to freedom of expression, which is fundamental for democracy.” Three years later, it is clear that they were more than correct.

In particular, the Network identifies Sections 14 and 15 of the Act as problematic. The sections read:

Section 14. If any person commits any offence of the following acts shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand baht or both:

(1) that involves import to a computer system of forged computer data, either in whole or in part, or false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage to that third party or the public;

(2) that involves import to a computer system of false computer data in a manner that is likely to damage the country’s security or cause a public panic;

(3) that involves import to a computer system of any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom’s security under the Criminal Code;

(4) that involves import to a computer system of any computer data of a pornographic nature that is publicly accessible;

(5) that involves the dissemination or forwarding of computer data already known to be computer data under (1) (2) (3) or (4);

Section 15. Any service provider intentionally supporting or consenting to an offence under Section 14 within a computer system under their control shall be subject to the same penalty as that imposed upon a person committing an offence under Section 14.

Addressing the charges brought against Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of Prachatai online newspaper, who has been accused in two sets of charges of not removing webboard comments with alleged lese majeste content quickly enough, the Thai Netizen Network argues that:

“In the first case, the police charged Chiranuch for an offence according to Article 15 of the Computer-Related Crime Act: intentionally support or consent to an offence under Article 14, allegedly committed by an Internet user. The offence in this case is the posting on Prachatai webboard a piece of text that the authority deemed to be defaming, insulting, or threatening the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent.

Nevertheless, that webboard post was removed for several months before the arrest. It was removed right after Chiranuch received a summons from the Crime Suppression Division asking for information of the post author. This shows her intention not to support any content of that post. Moreover, the period of 20 days, for which the topic was present, that the police claimed as proof of “intentional support,” does not appear in any part of the law. It was just a number cited in the arrest report.”

Intention is a slippery legal category. How precisely is evidence provided to definitely indicate a given actor’s intention? This was problematic in the case and conviction of Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul last year, as one analysis on the New Mandala website of the  summary judgment statement in her case indicated.

The Thai Netizen Network then methodically lists the flaws with the law which Chiranuch’s case clearly indicate. They call for what PPT views as necessary changes in the law as follows:

  1. The law must consider and deal with “intermediary” as an information tube, a cache, or a buffer. It must also understand the nature of the internet in which information flows rapidly that any filtering or controlling measure is hardly made possible yet worth the effort. It will just cause more harm than good.
  2. The law must assume an intermediary to be innocent by default until it is proven to intentionally assist in the offence, after which a court process can start.
  3. Unless and until the court has sentenced that a controversial content actually violated the law and/or the suspect was guilty, the law cannot be applied to an intermediary.
  4. If an intermediary is sentenced guilty, the penalty must vary on reasonable degrees of involvement.
  5. There must be an extension of the law to define notice-and-take-down procedures and ensure a safe harbour for intermediaries. For example, a webmaster can be held as suspect only if they received a takedown notice from the authorities and refuse to comply within the time period specified in notice-and-takedown procedures.

The entire statement is worth a careful read and can be done so by going to the Thai Netizen Network website, or it can be downloaded in .PDF, .TXT, and .ODT file formats here.

PPT finds the Thai Netizen Network’s analysis smart and important. We go slightly further than calling for amendment to the Act — and call for its immediate repeal and the immediate dropping of the charges against Chiranuch Premchaiporn and and immediate halt to investigations of others accused of allegedly violating the Act.

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