Digital vision just a blur

Digital vision just a blur

There are many things the government can do to promote information technology development if it abandons its obsession of being "content police".

The backlash against the military regime's plan to erect a single entity to control all international internet traffic should not deter authorities from trying to improve the country's digital infrastructure.

The government should realise from the single gateway symbolic protest that cybersecurity should sit high on its list of things to do as it marches on to make its digital economy vision materialise.

If government leaders are not too fixated on seeing opponents to its single gateway idea as being anti-coup or excessively liberal, they should be able to learn a few things from the ongoing debate about the proposal, and even spot opportunities for future development.

The first case in point is evident in the collective attempt by ordinary online users to cripple government websites by overloading their capacity to host visitors simultaneously to show their opposition to the single gateway "initiative".

The government was lucky the cyber-attack was meant as a symbolic protest. The damage was limited only to loss of face for some senior executives.

What the government should learn from the incident, however, is how vulnerable their websites are to attacks, even simple ones by ordinary citizens and not expert hackers.

It might argue that these web pages are there for public services and do not contain classified information. Still, the weak points should not be overlooked.

As opponents to the single gateway idea have pointed out, security in the IT system need not come from a single control point, which may be helpful for content screening but could compromise the system's integrity.

The recent hacking of The Mall Group's database by a group called Lizard Squad is another case that should alert authorities about the need for cybersecurity.

It is comforting that the country has been able to rely on services from the Computer Security Incident Response Team (ThaiCERT) in dealing with computer security incidents since 2000. Still, a 2013 security report by British-based SophosLabs should remind authorities that all is not well.

In the report, Thailand was identified as the third-riskiest country for cybersecurity in Asean. Data from ThaiCERT shows that Thailand has come under more than 3,500 cyber attacks this year, which include more than 900 cases of fraud and more than 800 intrusions.

The government, especially the new Information and Communication Technology minister, should also realise that several other urgent tasks are waiting to be implemented in preparation for the digital economy plan which it committed to the public.

Following the latest cabinet reshuffle, the policy championed by former deputy prime minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula seems to have been halted.

It is not even clear whether the national digital economy committee, which was set up on an ad hoc basis, is still functional as several of its members were removed during the reshuffle.

There is no disputing that telecommunications infrastructure projects under the digital economy policy should go ahead.

These development projects, including the construction of a national broadband network, creation of national data centres and implementation of necessary laws to support the digital policy, will set the country on a new development path.

The government will receive public support if it pursues projects that harness the power of the internet to enrich people's lives, not deprive them of opportunities.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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