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Phuket Opinion: Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut

PHUKET: The new sections of the Computer Crime Act that recently came into force are yet another sign that Thailand’s authorities are not only completely out of touch with the realities of the modern world, but terrified of them.


The Phuket News

Sunday 4 June 2017, 09:00AM

The Computer Crime Act has broad implications for the millions of tourists who visit Thailand every year.
The Computer Crime Act has broad implications for the millions of tourists who visit Thailand every year.

The vaguely-worded law has dire consequences for freedom of speech and the freedom of the press in Thailand.

Worse, it leaves the average person – and in Thailand, especially the poor and uneducated – open to abuse by those able to wield the new provisions’ power.

The words of the Commander of the Phuket Provincial Police, Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen, highlight the Kafkaesque nature of the law:

“If shared Facebook posts are deemed to have some form of negative effect on a third party, then the person who shared the post can be charged,” said Maj Gen Teeraphol.

Some form of negative effect? Just what exactly does that mean? Will schoolyard tiffs and lovers’ spats played out on Facebook now lead to jail time and fines for the parties involved?

Should restaurant owners start reporting their negative review’s online to police? What about online opinion pieces such as this one?

It seems a taste for employing repressive legislation has been developed – as evidenced by the marked increase in lese majeste cases prosecuted in the past three years – and the thought has arisen, why not just make a law like that to protect ourselves?

The Act also has broad implications for the millions of tourists who visit Thailand every year. The vast majority of whom will be blissfully unaware of just how vulnerable they are should they unwittingly violate the ill-defined wording of the new laws.

Will foreign embassies have to start issuing travels warnings telling people to leave their computers and smartphones at home, lest the authorities pounce on them at the airport for a Facebook post they nonchalantly clicked “Like” on in their home country?

Perhaps this author is guilty of taking the logic of this argument to the extreme, but as the saying goes; to a man whose only tool is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

The clock is now ticking for the first prosecution under the new law in Phuket, who will be hammered first?



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Capt B | 06 June 2017 - 11:33:29

Who will be the hammered first ? .... Probably that British bloke who "Hit the Anchors", "Lost it", resulting in the accidental death of his pregnant girlfriend & her unborn child. He didn't like being charged with "Wreckless Driving" (Negligent Driving), so he has tried to play Judge & Jury by using Facebook & Youtube on the internet. This could be deemed to be an absolute insult to the Thai Legal System if the Judge / Magistrate takes any notice whatsoever of his postings. Sorry to all you "bleeding heart" Facebook users out there, but all of these matters should be decided in court & not Facebook or Youtube.

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Christy Sweet | 05 June 2017 - 12:05:06

Not sure why having existing libel laws applied to social media is cause for concern? Actually not sure how this " new" law isn't the same old law re "computer crime", just put in a new bill.  

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simon01 | 04 June 2017 - 09:22:07

It does far more damage than good. Rather than solve the problems its just trying to hide them from the world. far better to actually tackle the problems and use social media to show whats been achieved. Social media these days is essential for business even on a national scale. Rather than restrict it, it needs to be promoted to get all the good points around the world.

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