PM orders ban on 'fake news'
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PM orders ban on 'fake news'

Govt mulls 2-week lockdown extension

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has issued an announcement banning the distribution of "fake news" or information causing public fear across all media platforms, in what he says is an effort to stem disinformation undermining the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement, signed by the prime minister, was published in the Royal Gazette yesterday and issued in compliance with Section 9 of the emergency decree.

It was issued on the same day media veterans and organisations held an online seminar to slam the government for ignoring calls to stop its plans to impose such a measure as they say it will restrict media freedom.

According to the announcement, distribution of information causing public fear or distribution of distorted information causing misunderstanding and affecting national stability is prohibited.

If false content is spread online, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) is required to inform internet service providers to check IP addresses and immediately suspend services.

The ISPs must report the details of their findings to the NBTC which is promptly required to lodge complaints and submit evidence to police to take legal action.

ISPs who fail to comply with the announcement will be considered to have failed to follow the requirements of their operating licences and the NBTC will take further action against them.

Meanwhile, the government is considering extending the Covid-19 lockdown in 13 "dark red" provinces for another two weeks as daily new infections continue to soar.

Thailand reported a record of 17,669 new cases and 165 fatalities yesterday.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration's (CCSA) operation centre yesterday discussed the extension of the lockdown and curfew measures, which will expire on Monday, for another 14 days, a source said.

Restrictions in some locations may be eased but those in other areas may be tightened, the source said.

The source said officials found that many people travelled across provinces despite inter-provincial travel curbs.

The CCSA would ask people to cooperate and avoid such travel rather than impose a total ban because people in some businesses need to travel between provinces, the source said.

Natthapol Nakpanich, secretary-general of the National Security Council, in his capacity as chief of the CCSA operation centre, stressed the need for additional proactive mass-testing initiatives to help detect new infections, the source said.

A 9pm-4am curfew and other restrictions have been in force since July 12 in the "dark red" provinces of Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Pathom and the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Yala.

On July 19, the government extended curfew and other restrictions in Greater Bangkok and the four southern provinces until at least Monday, and added three more provinces -- Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, and Ayutthaya -- to the list of "dark red" zones, bringing the total number of provinces placed under lockdown to 13.

Pol Capt Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, spokesman for City Hall, said the number of infections in the capital had reached almost 4,000 during the past two days.

Bangkok led in the country with 3,963 new transmissions yesterday, one day after logging 3,997 cases.

Therefore, lockdown measures must remain in place in Bangkok to restrict people's mobility and contain transmissions, Pol Capt Pongsakorn said.

He said that even though the closure of construction worker camps in Bangkok has been lifted, the bubble and seal approach will still be enforced to prevent workers from coming into contact with others outside their camps.

In other news, community isolation has been implemented to help look after patients who cannot self-isolate at home due to a lack of medical attention as pressure on hospital beds rises, Pol Capt Pongsakorn said.

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