DES pursues court action against social media accounts

DES pursues court action against social media accounts

Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta
Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta

The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) has sent evidence to police to take legal action against social media platforms that fail to remove URLs deemed inappropriate.

DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said on Wednesday the ministry has asked the Royal Thai Police's Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) to take action against a total of 496 URLs which violated the Computer Crime Act and security laws between Oct 13 and Dec 4.

Of them, 284 URLs are on Facebook, 81 on YouTube, 130 on Twitter, and the rest on other platforms, the minister said.

The DES has identified a total of 19 account owners -- 15 on Facebook and four on Twitter, Mr Buddhipongse said.

According to a source from the ministry, the people facing legal action include Andrew MacGregor Marshall, who faces 74 court orders to block 120 URLs; Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who faces 50 court orders to block 66 URLs, and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who faces 194 court orders to block 439 URLs. All are critics of the government and the royal family, and two are fugitives living abroad in self-exile.

Anti-government protest leader Arnon Nampa faces two court orders to block two URLs, while another leader, Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, faces two court orders to block four URLs.

"The public have been urged to be careful using social media either by personal or avatar accounts because authorities can verify the identity of the users,'' Mr Buddhipongse said.

The minister said the DES has worked with various agencies, including the TCSD and the Royal Thai Police, to gather evidence against those who violated the computer crime law and related laws.

He also said the "Volunteers Keep an Eye Online" webpage launched by the DES had received complaints about 11,914 URLs last month.

After verification, 826 of them are deemed to be illegal. They comprise 357 on Facebook, 231 on YouTube, 160 on Twitter, four on TikTok, and 74 on other platforms, the minister said. The court has ordered the closure of 765 of them, the minister added.

He said the ministry sent warning letters on Nov 6 to operators of social media platforms telling them to block illegal information within 15 days.

He said the warnings attached with court orders targeted 487 links on Facebook, and 98 of the links were removed.

Of the targeted 137 links on YouTube, all were removed. For the warnings against 81 URLs on Twitter, eight were removed, the minister said.

The DES will send more warning letters to social media platform operators telling them to take down a total of 607 URLs deemed to be illegal, Mr Buddhipongse said.

Meanwhile, police on Wednesday pressed more criminal charges, including of lese majeste, against anti-government protest leaders, who vowed to continue their rallies.

At the TCSD, Mr Parit and Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul acknowledged the lese majeste and computer crime charges.

Ms Panusaya said the lese majeste charge under Section 112 of the Criminal Code atem from a complaint laid by songwriter Nitipong "Dee" Honark.

She also said an event called "Mob Fest" will be held at the October 14 Memorial on Ratchadamnoen Avenue today, with a seminar and exhibition on Section 112.

Demonstrators would not move from there, she said.

Mr Parit said they had done nothing wrong but were being politically persecuted. Demonstrations will escalate next year and continue demanding reform of the royal institution, he said.

At Lumpini police station, Atthapol Buapat, Thanee Sasom and Nawat Liangwatana were charged with organising a demonstration without permission and violating the emergency decree by failing to implement disease prevention measures at the rally.

The charges relate to the rally at Ratchaprasong intersection on Oct 25.

Mr Atthapol said he denied the charges. He had already been served with five summonses and arrest warrants over political demonstrations.

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