PM: Facebook must respect Thai law

PM: Facebook must respect Thai law

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha answers reporters' questions while in Rayong about Facebook's threat of legal action against his government's demand it restrict access to content illegal under  Thai law. (Screenshot from Government House Facebook page)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha answers reporters' questions while in Rayong about Facebook's threat of legal action against his government's demand it restrict access to content illegal under Thai law. (Screenshot from Government House Facebook page)

RAYONG: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his ministers stood firm on Tuesday in demanding that Facebook respect Thai law when the government asks it to restrict access to certain accounts.

In response to Facebook's threat to take legal action against the government's demand that it restrict access to content that offended the royal institution, Prime Minister Prayut said all parties must observe the laws  of Thailand.

He referred to the Royalist Marketplace page on Facebook, and named "Somsak and Pavin" as the people behind the site. This was an apparent reference to Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a former Thammasat lecturer living in self-exile in France after fleeing lese majeste charges in Thailand, and Pavin Chatchavalpongpun, a university academic working in Japan.

"You know who and where these people are. Do they take responsibility for the damage to our country? No matter what happens in Thailand, they are not affected at all. The trouble is in Thailand," Gen Prayut said during a visit to Rayong.

"All actions against offending pages comply with Thai law. I do not use any dictatorial power that I no longer have to close them. These actions are based on court orders. We confirm that we are acting in accordance with Thai law," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the government could use Thai law to correct any posts that violated the law.

"Freedom under international laws is another matter. Whether it can apply to what happens in Thailand depends on the quality of the websites concerned, whether they present what is beneficial to Thai people and society or not. Otherwise, they cause problems," he said.

"Whatever violates Thai law is not right. Whenever there is wrongdoing in Thailand, we seek cooperation from Facebook Thailand, and it always cooperates," Mr Don said.

Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said his ministry had forwarded court orders seeking the removal of illegal posts within 15 days.

"We do not ignore violations of the law. This is the first time we are taking action against the owner of a platform that does not comply with the orders of a Thai court."

"If they do not respond, we will take action against the platform.... We are acting in accordance with law. We are not abusing any party, because all actions are based on court orders... Actions respond to court orders. It applies to all platforms, not only Facebook," he said.

Facebook removed some posts on Mr Pavin's group page because a court found them illegal, and consequently the ministry did not take legal action against Facebook, Mr Buddhipongse said. He did not explain further.


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