LINE surveillance in headlines again in Thailand

05 Jan 2015

The issue of LINE surveillance hit the headlines again in the last week of 2014 in Thailand when ICT Minister Group Captain Pornchai Rujiprapa said that he had access to LINE instant messages and would monitor them all for any criticism of the monarchy.

LINE, as it had done 14 months ago when we discovered it had no real security so to speak of, said that it was not the case and that logs could only be gained through court order.

LINE actually issued a press release saying, “LINE has confirmed with ICT (Ministry of Information and Communication Technology) that ICT denies the alleged fact of LINE messages being monitored by ICT.”

Quite why Naver LINE is issuing press releases on behalf of a government minister is anyone’s guess.

The conversation probably went something like this.

MICT - We can monitor LINE.

LINE - No you can’t.

MICT - We sure can.

LINE - Why can’t you shut up?

One friend Tweeted that any activist still using LINE after this was stupid. I replied that anyone using LINE since the incident where the police said they can monitor LINE was stupid.

Life went on and LINE’s 33 million Thailand users continued using it, including the parliamentarians who have LINE groups to debate the new laws the country is passing.

Away from LINE the regulator had a conference where it was decided that they needed to do more to protect children and the monarchy online. This was soon followed by an announcement by NBTC secretary-general that the regulator will now shut down websites deemed defaming to the monarchy without the need to seek a court order.

The NBTC urged ISPs to contact immediately the relevant personnel at the NBTC or the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) if there are doubts whether certain websites defame the revered Thai monarchy or not.

The MICT ended the year boasting a tally of 1,688 websites shut down.

Earlier senior junta figure General Pravit Wongsuwan said that the National Council for Peace and Order will shut down news organisations that are damaging to the NCPO or to Prime Minister General Prayuth Chanocha.

Elsewhere, General Prayuth has invited Huawei to be part of Thailand’s digital economy transformation, continuing his pro-Chinese stance.

And all of that was just in the week while the rest of the world was busy celebrating Christmas and the new year.

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