Thai parliament officially strengthens online surveillance

security camera and urban video

Extensive discussions in the Thai parliament regarding amendments to the 2007 Computer Crime Act have reached a conclusion, and legislation amending a cybercrime law has just been unanimously voted to pass, announced Reuters.

The law, regarded as a threat to online privacy, has been repeatedly criticized by human rights organizations around the world and internet freedom advocates. The groups warn this decision increases state surveillance of online activity and allows invasion of online privacy to prevent critique of the royal family.

Lèse majesté in Thailand, a subjective law that dates from 1908, punishes with prison any insults, threats and negative comments about the royal family.

“Current proposed changes preserve the Act’s powers to violate the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy including by enabling indiscriminate online surveillance and censorship,” Amnesty International writes.

Online censorship has increased in Thailand since 2014 when the military government took over, following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Any content considered offensive or a threat to national security will be taken down.

“Thailand has some of the world’s toughest laws against royal insult, which has curtailed public discussion about the monarchy’s role following the Oct. 13 death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was seen as a unifying figure,” Reuters says.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said there is a need for cyber control in Thailand and rejected the allegations. Royal endorsement is expected in the near future from King Maha Vajiralongkorn who was crowned in October.

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