Police downplay wiretap consent plans

Police downplay wiretap consent plans

Police again demand the right to listen in whenever they think they should. (File photo)
Police again demand the right to listen in whenever they think they should. (File photo)

Police have come out to allay concerns after the cabinet on Tuesday approved proposed amendments to the criminal law seeking to allow police to conduct telephone tapping.

Deputy police spokesman Kritsana Pattanacharoen said the proposed amendments, which are yet to be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), will not affect privacy and civil liberties.

He said the draft amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code would give police the authority to wiretap communication in four groups of criminal cases: terrorism, transnational crimes, crimes with a statute of limitations of 10 years and above, and national security.

Moreover, there are steps involved and telephone tapping can proceed only with court permission and the courts will lay down conditions for phone tapping including the duration involved, he said.

"Police investigators will have to compile evidence and propose a wire-tapping request to their supervisors. A court order for wire tapping will be sought. It can proceed only with court permission," he said.

The cabinet refused a request by the Royal Thai Police in August of last year for the right to wiretap. There was no explanation for the change in policy.

Pol Col Kritsana said the public should not be alarmed by the planned amendments, as their privacy would not be compromised.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has also tried to allay concerns, saying the proposed amendments will be put up for public comments. The draft amendments were originally submitted to the cabinet as "top secret" but he recommended against it because public opinions would be needed.

"Don't be worried. A court order is required before police can proceed. The steps involved are in line with the rule of the law," he said.

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