A cyber-safety bill introduced just weeks beforehand of Thailand’s first democratic election due to the fact a 2014 military coup has stoked issues that it can be used as a weapon to stifle political dissent.

Critics say the extensive and indistinct language within the Cyber Security Bill — exceeded with the aid of the country’s unelected lawmakers on Feb. 28 — may additionally supply the modern-day military authorities powers to seize facts and digital gadget without proper criminal oversight. The regulation will come into effect as soon as it’s miles posted inside the Royal Gazette, the timing of that is uncertain.

Pertains to Thailand’s Cyber Law Raises Fear Military Could ‘Cage’ the Internet
A cool animated film by Thai nameless satirist CartoonEggCatX.Source: CartoonEggCatX
“This law’s aim is straightforward: to place the internet in a cage,” stated Katherine Gerson, a Thailand researcher at Amnesty International. “Authorities have already penalized ratings of reporters, politicians, activists, academics and college students beneath vaguely worded law — this new regulation could entrench the stifling political climate cultivated by using the army government.”

The new regulation dangers further eroding free speech in a kingdom that’s already imprisoned masses of people over the past decade for political statements and insults to the royal circle of relatives. Technology agencies consisting of Apple Inc. And Facebook Inc. Have additionally warned through an enterprise foyer group that it would empower authorities to an undercover agent on maximum net visitors.

Thailand isn’t by myself in tightening oversight of the internet and social media. Last 12 months, the authorities of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak brought a faux information law that changed into used to probe his chief opponent Mahathir Mohamad. After Mahathir became elected in May he attempted to repeal the bill, however, become thwarted with the aid of the opposition-led Senate. India, which holds national elections subsequent month, is likewise attempting to stem the unfold of incorrect information on Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp.

“We deliver a high significance to cyber protection and cyber threats, those measures are only for use while there’s an actual chance to national stability,” Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak, a central authority spokesman stated in a smartphone interview. “If you’re only a regular commercial enterprise operating right here with transparency and precise conduct, this regulation wouldn’t affect you.”

Heavy Users
Social media is anticipated to play a heavy position in advance of Thailand’s March 24 countrywide poll, injecting a new dynamic into a country with a volatile history of elections, unrest, and army putsches. More than 3-quarters of Thailand’s sixty-nine million human beings are net users and the Southeast Asian united states of America ranks 1/3 globally for the most time in line with the day spent surfing the internet, in step with We Are Social and Hootsuite facts. Thailand is the seventh largest market for Facebook customers international, with 84 percent of the total populace on the platform.

In the event of a cyber threat to countrywide security, the new invoice lets in a watchdog committee headed with the aid of the top minister to seize computer systems, servers and facts without a court order, consistent with the cutting-edge version of the law published on the Senate’s internet site.

The authorities’ assertion has now not reassured generation company lobbyists, who have spoken out towards the new law. The Asia Internet Coalition, an enterprise employer that represents companies together with Alphabet Inc., Amazon.Com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook and Twitter Inc., said in statement on the day the regulation was handed the bill would provide the military regime “sweeping powers to screen site visitors online” under a “loosely-described countrywide security schedule.”

It may also decorate the army authorities’ powers underneath the prevailing Computer Crimes Act. In the 5 years since it came to energy, the junta has filed over 60 prices, on issues ranging from the publication of a whistle-blowing report on human rights in Thailand to the posting of content on Facebook.

Many instances pass undocumented however and the quantity is thought to be a whole lot better, stated Yingcheep Atchanong, an application supervisor at law, a Bangkok-based totally organization that works on issues regarding freedom of expression and civil and political rights.

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