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Thai 2016 ICT budget to be about infrastructure, 4G

Thailand’s senate and Ministry of Public Health have suffered a massive data breach by the Anonymous hackers who claimed to be behind the World Trade Organisation hack. The attackers posted hundreds of database entries online, including logins and passwords as well as personal details of the websites users.

The attack was reported to have been in retaliation for Thailand’s indifference to the plight of human trafficking and collusion by officials.

The fact that the senate working group website stored passwords in plaintext is worrying. Who in their right mind stores passwords in plaintext in this day and age?

Data breach aside, the data shows a worrying disregard for data sovereignty. Nearly all the Ministry of Public Health emails were either gmail or hotmail, with the occasional yahoo email account thrown in. One could count the number of official @moph.go.th emails present in the leaked table on one hand.

Data sovereignty? I wonder if anyone has ever heard of it.

Some websites have posted screenshots the use of the leaked logins on the sites.

This attack will no doubt put the Thai digital economy laws back into the spotlight. ICT Minister Pornchai Rujiprapa has argued for a stronger, more proactive cyber security agency to protect the country from such cyber attacks and is more than happy to sweep aside civil liberties in order to attain that goal.

After a flurry of activity, debate about those laws have all but disappeared from the headlines.

I have said and will say again that the digital economy laws have little do with the digital economy and are more about passing spying laws. Nothing has changed much since I last wrote about it. The digital economy commission (or committee as some prefer to call it) still has absolute power over surveillance and anyone acting on its behalf still has indemnity from the law (because otherwise no capable people would dare work for the commission).

The data privacy watchdog is still under the same commission and so is the telecoms regulator which will no longer be independent.

Elsewhere, last Thursday’s budget debate (well, rant) was interesting inasmuch as the Dear Leader referred to outgoing NBTC secretary-general in more detail than anything else in the MICT budget.

The two hours was a cross between a bad stand-up comedy show and a rant from a grumpy old man. The Prime Minister would spent a couple of short sentences talking about each ministry’s plans for the fiscal year, then go on half yelling at the media for being unfair to each ministry over the last year since the coup. Every now and then he would  tell jokes that were followed by applause by his captive audience of hand-picked legislators.

It was surreal, but in a way it was not scary, not malicious, not evil. Just a sketch from a different era. One could almost imagine the court jesters complete with their colourful hats with bells preparing to make a joke to liven up the mood when his attacks on the media got a bit too much.

Anyway, General Prayuth said that the media were talking nonsense when they said that NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit had resigned to become a Minister and that Takorn was retiring because of health reasons and that was it. There was no conflict between people’s whose name began with P. General Prayuth also said that there was no ministerial post vacant for Takorn unless he fired the Energy Minister. Then he apologised and said he meant ICT Minister, not Energy Minister.

Was that a hint? Or did he actually mean that? Nobody really knows anymore.

The entire MICT budget for 2016 was about sorting out the shared telecoms infrastructure by August and that we could expect a lot of money for the country soon (from the 4G auctions). Yes, that was literally it. Prayuth spent more time telling jokes about his wife than on the ICT Ministry’s 2016 budget.

The budget got approved with unanimous votes. Of course. Nor was a single question asked. Of course.