BANGKOK – The highly controversial computer crimes law came into effect on Wednesday after it was published in the Royal Gazette in January.
Thailand’s new Computer-Related Crime Act (CCA) gives overly broad powers to the government to restrict free speech, enforce surveillance and censorship, and retaliate against activists, Human Rights Watch said today.
Despite concerns expressed by civil society, business, and diplomatic representatives, the controversial law was unanimously adopted on December 16, 2016, by the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly.
Before the enactment, the bill was strongly opposed by many public members as well as civil society groups. Critics voiced concerns over some clauses as being vague and the possibility of them affecting the exercise of rights and freedom of the people.
More than 300,000 people signed a petition on the website change.org, voicing their opposition to the bill, when it came up for final reading late last year but the National Legislative Assembly passed the bill.
Meanwhile, Five more laws related to the new computer crime act are awaiting to be promulgated but members of the public will be given a chance to give their inputs which will be considered and incorporated into the laws.
The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has planned public hearings in five major provinces for public participation in the drafting process.
The first hearing was held on Tuesday in Bangkok with the next four set for June 1 in Chon Buri, June 7 in Chiang Mai June 16 in Phuket and June 19 in Ubon Ratchathani. The five by-laws are expected to come into force on July 23.
Commenting on the new computer crime law and the planned Big Data centre, DE deputy permanent secretary Somsak Khaosuwan said that the law plug of the loopholes of the old law and would enable authorities concerned to deal with contents in the social media which are deemed illegal or improper.
He assured that the law and the Big Data centre would not be used to snoop on the people or to infringe on their privacy.
He clarified that authorities had no intention to punish any individuals who read posts which are deemed illegal or visit websites which are banned. Only those who shared the contents may face the punishment, he added.
Some of the contentious points in the law includes posting false information online that was not defamatory.