Activists rap change to cybercrime law

Activists rap change to cybercrime law

Cyber activists outside Government House covered their laptop screens with messages protesting the draft amendment to the Computer Crime Act and sent a Change.org petition with 40,000 signaturs to the government demanding it shelve the measure. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Cyber activists outside Government House covered their laptop screens with messages protesting the draft amendment to the Computer Crime Act and sent a Change.org petition with 40,000 signaturs to the government demanding it shelve the measure. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Cyber activist groups have urged the government to shelve the draft amendment to the Computer Crime Act as it also contains a single internet gateway policy which could violate people's freedom of expression and access to information.

Arthit Suriyawongkul, coordinator of the Thai Netizen Network (TNN), called on the government to delay the amendment Thursday, saying that if passed into law, it would restrict people's freedoms of expression and their rights to information as well allow hackers to more easily access personal data.

Mr Arthit was speaking at Government House after cyber advocacy networks, led by himself and Amnesty International Thailand director Piyanuch Kotsarn, submitted 40,000 names of people who signed the change.org webpage to protest the government's single internet gateway plan to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice-president Peerasak Porjit.

The groups also held up laptops with protest messages on pieces of paper pasted on the screens.

The move came after the cabinet approved the draft amendment to the Computer Crime Act, which also contains the gateway policy, on April 21.

The draft was then forwarded to the NLA which voted to accept the draft in principle. The draft is currently being scrutinised by members of the assembly.

Mr Arthit said the government earlier promised to amend the bill so that it will not violate people's rights after six internet advocacy networks submitted more than 22,000 names in protest against the gateway plan last year.

He also urged the NLA to amend Sections 14, 15 and 20 as well as remove Section 20(4). All sections involved people's freedom of expression and rights to information.

Meanwhile, Ms Piyanuch voiced concerns over the bill, saying some sections could remove people's freedoms of expression as well as violate internet users' privacy.

He said the draft bill will go against the country's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which stipulates that the government must protect people's rights, not restrict them.

Also on Thursday, Mr Peerasak said the issue will be brought up for discussion in the NLA in order to find a solution, adding cyber activists should explain their concerns to the NLA scrutiny committee.

Last year, the single internet gateway project was proposed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, which said the scheme would boost social and economic development and ensure safe online sales without infringing on people's rights.


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