Mass-shooting pranksters face harsher penalties

Mass-shooting pranksters face harsher penalties

Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said harsher penalties will be imposed on online pranksters who exploit events such as Saturday's mass shooting to spark panic among the public.

The move came after police arrested a man in Chaiyaphum and a 16-year-old boy in Roi Et for social media posts in which they threatened to commit similar atrocities at shopping malls in their respective provinces.

As Mr Buddhipongse stressed the need to tighten legal measures yesterday, a man in Nakhon Pathom's Muang district was nabbed for allegedly posting a similar threat.

The suspect denied the accusation, claiming his Facebook account was hacked.

Mr Buddhipongse expressed concern at the increase in the number of pranks, misinformation and rogue activities online since social media became popular.

"I admit authorities cannot keep up with this development," he said.

His ministry is studying laws, including the 2017 Computer Crime Act, to find whether they need amending so that more online acts can be listed as offences.

"We may need to change it all, from criteria to types of punishments," the minister said.

Meanwhile, a monk in Khon Kaen was arrested yesterday on suspicion of making a crank call with intent to cause panic.

Pol Col Preecha Kengsarikij, the Muang police chief, said a man had called 191 and warned a bomb would be detonated at a well-known hotel in Khon Kaen city.

Police rushed to the hotel, but found nothing suspicious.

The caller's telephone number was registered to Santisuk Srilom, 30, an ordained monk at Wat Saeng Sawang-arom.

Pol Col Preecha said the suspect confessed to making a hoax 191 call.

He was initially charged with giving authorities false information that could cause panic, in violation of Section 173 of the Criminal Code. The offence carries a maximum three years in prison and/or a fine of 60,000 baht.

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