No legal action from Facebook: minister

PHOTO: Business Today

Thailand’s Minister of Digital Economy and Society said yesterday he doesn’t believe Facebook will take any legal action against the government and the ministry in relation to legal requests to take down or restrict access to some of its content, since the platform has cooperated well with previous requests. Buddhipongse Punnakanta was speaking at a press conference at the DES Ministry to address Facebook’s legal threat to sue the government for blocking access to accounts deemed defamatory to the Monarchy.

He referred specifically to a page called Royalist Marketplace, operated by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, that contains sensitive posts about the royal institution. Pavin is currently working as a university lecturer in Japan and is wanted on lèse-majesté charges.

“As Facebook has blocked access to illicit content, this means the company understands and respects Thai laws. We insist that the move is in line with the law enforcement and Thai sovereignty”.

Amnesty International has slammed Facebook for “…once again caving to the whims of repressive governments”, but Buddhipongse stressed that the government is not abusing its powers and that all platforms must comply with Thai law.

“Facebook creates benefits for Thai people who use it in proper ways, such as e-commerce.”

He reiterated that all online platforms are treated equally under Thai law, and the government doesn’t discriminate against particular pages, but focuses on dealing with “inappropriate content”.

Regarding the Royalist Marketplace, he said a new page could be created, but if illicit content is found the ministry will have to take legal action against it in line with the Computer Crime Act.

He also said the government and the DES ministry have noticed bullying happening on social media, and any person affected, regardless of their political background, can file complaints with the ministry or the Technology Crime Suppression Division. He says the government doesn’t want to see bullying or witch-hunting on social media, which could have a harmful effect on people’s daily lives.

Buddhipongse said the DES ministry is seeking cooperation from social media platforms to remove another 1,024 URLs deemed inappropriate, in line with the court’s orders.

Of them, 661 URLs are on Facebook, 289 on YouTube, 69 on Twitter and the rest on other platforms.

The removal needs to be undertaken within 15 days, starting from today. The ministry is also looking into complaints against 700 URLs before deciding whether to seek court orders to take them down.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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