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Thailand’s new “cyber security” law is bad for its citizens’ privacy

The Thai government can now enter any internet company, seize the hardware and extract user data without a court order.

Somehow Thailand has managed to make its cyber security laws even worse than they were before. With the recent amendments, it has become clear that user privacy is not something respected by the Thai Government – who now hold even more power over user data and even encrypted data. They can now enter any internet company, seize the hardware and extract user data without a court order.

For a long time now, the cybersecurity laws of the South East Asian countries have always favored governments to gain access to private user data. Lack of a robust cybersecurity policy in these nations is a sad reality.

With this new amendment, the Secretary-General of the National Cyber Security Committee is granted the power to seize hardware from any company by citing ‘severe cyber threat’ as a reason. If companies do not comply with such inspections and seizing of hardware, the people running these companies will face potential jail time under noncompliance.

For performing these audits and seizing hardware etc, the Thai Government doesn’t need court orders. They need to declare ‘National Emergency’ or ‘Severe Cyber Threat’ and proceed with their actions. The courts have also punished people and are imprisoning based on defamation claims with no valid proof.

Thailand has enforced several policies in the recent past which have favored the government in accomplishing its agenda with no repercussions. There were incidents in the past where ISPs and moderators of a forum etc, were punished and held liable for the comments posted on platforms against the King. They arrested a webmaster as she could not delete a few insulting comments against the Thai King immediately.

It is said the ‘Office and of Prevention & Supervision of Information Technology Crimes’ has a war-room where people continuously monitor hate comments against the King.

The Asian Internet Coalition has issued a statement in response to this amendment and has pointed out at several incidences of vague language. These vague statements are carefully planted and designed by the Thai Government to help them harvest user data, filter comments against the King and censor the internet.

“Protecting online security is a top priority, however, the law’s ambiguously defined scope, vague language, and lack of safeguards raise serious privacy concerns for both individuals and businesses, especially provisions that allow an overreaching authority to search and seize data and electronic equipment without proper legal oversight,” he says.

While the Thai Government frames its laws and amendments as ‘Cyber Security’ measures, the people of Thailand and other countries don’t think so. These measures appear as attempts to censor the internet and violate user privacy.

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