Students protest computer law

Students protest computer law

Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul
Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

A group of students on Sunday called for the National Legislative Assembly to halt the promulgation of the new computer crime law, saying lawmakers had failed to listen to those who opposed it.

About 10 first-year students from Chulalongkorn University's faculty of communications art and faculty of political science gathered outside the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in the Pathumwan district in the afternoon.  

About 50 police officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau's division 6 and Pathumwan police station were deployed to enforce the public assembly law. The protest was observed by the Resistance Citizen group leader and key anti-coup student activist Sirawith "Ja New" Seritiwat. 

The group, which calls itself “Free lnternet Society of Thailand” (Fist), said in a statement that legislators had voted 168 to nil in favour of the Computer Crime Act even though it contained vaguely worded provisions. There had also been a petition from the Thai Netizen Network objecting to the bill that had been signed by more than 360,000 people.   

The statement said the act gave authorities unlimited power to control the internet, can block access to information, access personal data and expression and violate people’s privacy. 

After 30 minutes, Pol Col Attawit Saisuab, deputy chief of division 6, asked the group to end its rally, saying the venue was public space and they may be in violation of the public assembly law.  

The student activists wound up after singing a song from "Les Misérables" Broadway show, "Do You Hear the People Sing", before leaving the area. Police did not arrest anyone or press charges.

The controversial law that replaces the 2007 Computer Crime Act was passed on Friday with some revision amid strong criticism that it would restrict freedom of expression. 

But Pol Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit, the head of the NLA committee scrutinising the bill, said a tough law was necessary at a time when cyber threats and crimes were on the rise.  

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