Thai legislature takes to LINE IM for promotion

17 Dec 2014

Thailand’s ICT Ministry has done a deal with Japan’s Naver LINE for a set of in-app stickers in the popular instant messaging app promoting junta leader General Prayuth Chanocha’s so-called 12 Thai values.

The deal has cost the taxpayer $215,000 (7.1 million Baht) and is obviously needed as having the general’s song played over and over again all day on broadcast radio as well as his TV shows is not enough to get the message through to the people.

If there is a silver lining is that the bombardment of brainwashing propaganda has made many people turn more to streaming video and music for their entertainment.

In April this year, LINE claimed 24 million users in the Kingdom, second only to its native Japan. Anecdotally it would seem that everyone here uses LINE.

Back in August, the national legislative assembly even showed off the “NLA LINE” group for lawmakers to communicate and collaborate. The move was actually a PR move to show how these lawmakers were so modern and comfortable with technology. They even had pretty young girls show off a tablet with a cute LINE character in the official, secure group.

Another group was also set up for the public to follow announcements from the legislature.

Data sovereignty? Never heard of it.

National security? Oh, that’s the excuse they keep using to justify giving lucrative satellite contracts to a certain Singapore-owned company without any new bid again and again.

The fact that communications about new laws is now nicely logged by a company in Japan means that the Japanese can now see into the innermost workings of Thailand’s upcoming laws.

Group chats by their nature cannot be end-to-end encrypted and they need to be stored on a central server so that people who were offline when the conversation took place can catch up.

A small group of people in Tokyo now have more access to matters of national security in Thailand to a degree unparallelled since World War 2 when Thailand was effectively under Japanese rule.

Not that the nice people at Naver would ever do anything with it of course, heaven forbid.

The fact that last year the head of Thailand’s Technology Crime Suppression Division said that LINE was secretly providing them with chat logs to track down dissidents did not make the app any less popular then and nobody even remembers that comment now.

The fact that it turned off encryption while on 3G and reused symmetrical, easily intercepted session keys got only got a murmur in the mainstream press

Cute teddy bears win over security, privacy and common sense.

The sad thing was that back in 2008 the previous military government under General Surayud Chulanond actually passed a cabinet resolution banning the use of foreign web-based email by senior civil servants and had ordered NECTEC, the Ministry of Science’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Center to come up with a locally hosted alternative.

Not that anything ever came out of it, of course.

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