Whole new world of censorship pain on its way to Thailand

A whole new world of censorship pain is on its way to Thailand, with the latest act by the thought police becoming law on Christmas Day.

Online platforms must abide by a new regulation to deal quickly with complaints about content deemed to violate the Computer Crimes Act.

A new regulation issued by Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn establishes procedures for the notification and removal of illegal information. According to Prachatai, this prohibits the public posting of anything dodgy and includes any information made available over a public digital network.

Among other things, all online service providers must create channels to receive complaints from the public. Apart from filing complaints with providers, offended parties can also complain to the police.

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Upon receiving a complaint – any complaint – providers must take down the questionable content, and notify all concerned parties, within 24 hours.

Those who don’t comply will face punishments of up to five years in jail and 100,000 baht fine (US$2,900). In addition, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Office revoke a provider’s operating licences.

Under the Computer Crime Act, the word “information” has been subject to disturbingly broad interpretation. The provision allows for digital messages, posts, and emails.

The bill also prohibits the public posting of information that might defame people, damage national security, or be regarded as pornography.

However, providers held to be negligent in the performance of their duties can still avoid punishment if they can prove that they are not responsible for the illegal information and gain no benefit from it.

Platform providers that allow for unscreened content uploads will also be exempted from the punishment, provided they abide by MDES’s notification and takedown policy.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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