PM vows to enforce cyber law
Ex-premiers urge govt to listen to criticism
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has insisted the government will accelerate efforts to weed out "junk" information on social media and that the controversial computer crime law must be enforced.
His statement came as opponents cried foul over the amended Computer Crime Act (CCA), which they said would restrict people's freedom of expression.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva also called on the government to be mindful of the criticism.
Gen Prayut said getting rid of junk information, which slanders people on social media, was in order. Legal authorities must quickly roll out measures to wipe out information which causes trouble for others, he added.
"The government is investigating illegal trade and narcotics trafficking as well as the hacking of economic systems and the business sector," said Gen Prayut. "Do you want social media to have these powers at their disposal?"
The government has no intention of keeping tabs on personal information or exploiting the law to incarcerate anyone, Gen Prayut added.
Mr Abhisit, meanwhile, said the government should listen to concerns raised by opponents of the law and refrain from treating the issue as being politically motivated.
Many opponents are youth concerned that the law would will allow the government to exercise excessive power, the former premier said.
Assurances from the government on the law would make people more confident that their rights will not be violated while national security will also be maintained, he said, adding that officials should not be preoccupied with figuring out ways to combat the hacking of state agencies' information.
A way out of the issue requires an exchange of opinions from all sides, Mr Abhisit said.
Another former premier Yingluck Shinawatra said she wants the government to listen to people who have come out to oppose the amended Computer Crime Act.
Ms Yingluck said she hoped the government would make it clear to the public that the amended act will not violate the rights and freedom of expression of the people.
She said the act would jeopardise the confidence of foreign investors who would worry that their information might be leaked by government officials.
Anti-computer law hackers have carried out cyber attacks on government websites since the law was passed by the National Legislative Assembly on Dec 16.
The Civilians Against Single Gateway group is accused of being behind the recent hacking of state websites and it has also threatened to hack confidential information, including police salaries, medical expenses and bank accounts.
A source in the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said five members of the group were taken to the 11th Military Circle in Dusit district on Thursday night for questioning in connection with the previous hacking. They were cooperative and the investigation might be widened to include 100 others involved in the offence, most of whom are teenagers.
"After a seven-day detention, they will be handed over to the police," the source said. Indictments will be sought against them in the civilian court.
The group's members were initially considered to have endangered national security since they took aim at state agencies' websites.
Meanwhile, police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said the police are employing measures to prevent the hacking of classified information, according to deputy police spokesman Krisana Patanacharoen. Pol Gen Chakthip also instructed the Technology Crime Suppression Division to hunt down the wrongdoers.
The spokesman insisted police websites have not been attacked.
Meanwhile, academics and netizen networks have voiced their reservations about the CCA at a seminar on the subject in Bangkok yesterday.
Law practitioner Paiboon Amonpinyokeat said while there are positive aspects of the CCA in curbing spam and phishing emails, officials should lessen their grip on how people should think and interact online.
The law should make it crystal clear what internet service providers must do to comply with authorities.
Under the law, a cyber screening panel would be set up and have human rights representatives. Its decision to take down unwanted contents or images could be appealed, he said.
"The vetting committee's decision is an administrative order, so the concerned party could file a counter-suit in the administrative court," he said.