Gateway is to protect kids, Prayut says

Gateway is to protect kids, Prayut says

Ampon denies PM wants to stifle rights

The single internet gateway was Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's bid to curb inappropriate content for children, the cabinet secretary-general says.

Secretary-general Ampon Kittiampon said on Friday the gateway was only a suggestion from the premier at the cabinet meeting on June 30. It was not a cabinet resolution.

Netizens previously used the meeting document circulated to ministries and state officials to back their claims that the government had made a decision to proceed with the controversial broadband regulating system.

The single internet gateway was mentioned by Gen Prayut, but it was only raised as an example, Mr Ampon said.

The cabinet document used the term "such as", he said, referring to a cabinet memorandum saying "such as authorising the Justice Ministry and the Royal Thai Police to proceed with the establishment of a single gateway".

The premier intended to find ways to prevent the flow of obscene materials to the young, he said.

He said the memo, which was dated July 3 this year, was only one of multiple suggestions that had come out every week from the meeting.

"This is not the cabinet resolution but only the circulated aide-memoire order," Mr Ampon said, adding that it was released in July when there were a number of criminal cases involving children and their use of the internet.

The document also indicates children and the young are exposed to content from the internet which is affecting their behaviour and learning capacity, he said.

Mr Ampon said there are three types of documents circulated involving cabinet meetings.

The first concerns cabinet resolutions and the second involves what the cabinet takes notes about during meetings.

The third is related to what the prime minister says at the meetings, and Gen Prayut's order in connection with the single internet gateway comes under this category.

Mr Ampon said he told the premier about public concerns over the single internet gateway immediately upon his return from the United States early this month.

The prime minister is not intent on stifling human rights, but wants to find ways to curb undesirable content for children, he added.

Meanwhile, the Information and Communication Technology Ministry insisted it was only given instructions to study what authority it has, based on the existing laws and regulations, to proceed with the single gateway initiative.

What the ministry wants is to boost social and economic development and ensure safe online sales without infringing on people's rights, Gp Capt Somsak Khaosuwan, deputy permanent secretary for the ministry, said in a seminar on the the gateway held by the Thai Journalists Association on Friday.

Prawit Leesathapornwongsa, a member of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, said the telecommunication industry has a clear pathway to transform from a state monopoly to a privatisated entity.

He noted the move had resulted in lower service costs for internet operators.

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