Prayut denies ordering single gateway launch

Prayut denies ordering single gateway launch

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has confirmed the single gateway initiative is in the studying phase and nothing has been done about it.

"Who proceeded? Have they moved ahead? Right now, we're just studying the idea. It's the same thing other countries are doing."

The next step is to consult other Asean countries, he said. 

"Social media and ICT [internet and communications technology] are useful and will be used extensively in the future. At the UN General Assembly, they were mentioned and discussed.

"At issue is how to use it safely. This is a different issue from human rights which we have already been very cautious about," said Gen Prayut, who returned from the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday evening.

Government agencies have to consider cybersecurity to support the digital economy, he continued, adding the single gateway was only one of several ways to achieve it.

"Single gateway is an issue that every country considers. Whether it will be implemented depends on neighbouring countries.

"What's the big deal about it? I insisted I did not order it. Whether it will be implemented depends on the cabinet and people. Why would I cause another problem?"

Asked what exactly he had said about the issue, Gen Prayut said he had not ordered anything.

"I just told them [government agencies] to find ways to ensure cybersecurity. The internet today is dangerous. There are many attacks and hackers. So don't talk about human rights."

There is no clarification why the Public Relations Department's website on Sept 4 published the official PM directives saying he had ordered the ICT Ministry and related agencies to set up the single gateway urgently to be used as a tool to control inappropriate websites and regulate international data flows. The order was based on the June 30 cabinet resolution.

The document created an uproar last week about the project, prompting heavy criticism and a coordinated online protest targeted at government websites on Wednesday.

Officials have since explained it is just an idea under study and no progress has been made. They claim the single gateway would help internet service providers save costs, enhance national security and cybersecurity and protect Thai children from inappropriate content and undesirable behaviours such as gaming addiction.

Critics say it will allow the state to censor content and violate internet privacy of both individual and corporate users. IT professionals also warn it could cause a nationwide blackout if the gateway goes wrong.

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