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Opinion: Implications of the Computer Crimes Act

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PHUKET: We can all let out a big sigh of relief now that the new Computer Crimes Act (CCA 2.0) is in effect, protecting us from ‘unsolicited digital advertising’ (aka spam) as well as a host of other annoyances and potential threats.

All of the potential implications of CCA 2.0 are far too broad to address in this space, so for expediency and safety let’s just address the spam issue in this installment.

“Promoting products by commenting on people’s personal social media posts is considered as spam and the person responsible could be fined up to 200,000 baht” is just one of the provisions of CCA 2.0.

Problem solved, right? After all, it goes without saying that we all hate spam and would love to see it removed from our Internet experiences.

But we also have to ask ourselves just how comprehensively and fairly can such vague regulations ever be enforced given the sheer size of the large and growing clouds of digital information out there. After all, this is the same government that banned Internet pornography. How’s that battle going?

Few would disagree that to really solve a problem you need to first find the root cause – and then deal with it. Another way of saying this is that you need to solve problems from the “bottom up” rather than top down. Unfortunately, the trend in Thailand seems to be the other way around.

This is too bad because no reasonable person would ever expect that simply proclaiming something illegal will cause it to magically disappear as if by the sweep of a magic wand.

A comprehensive and fair enforcement ability is needed; otherwise the measure risks becoming just another device in the extortionist’s toolbox. Thus, this approach carries the risk of undermining public trust in the government, which is already under serious scrutiny abroad for the way it came to power.

If the state really wants to continue to pursue its top down approach, it should consider starting by setting a better example for the masses. Many Thai government websites have had their chat rooms embarrassed by links to porn sites and numerous other embarrassing commercial promotions of other services that are in fact illegal here. Why not start the war on spam there?

Trying to impose order over such a huge and intrinsically complex situation is as futile as trying to stop a tsunami by throwing buckets of water at it.

 

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