Amnesty International presses Thailand on cyber bill

Amnesty International has led a group of Thai NGOs asking Thailand’s military government to declassify three secretive cyber laws that are due to be ratified by the national legislative assembly.

The three bills are the draft cyber security act, the draft computer misuse act and the draft data privacy act.

Amnesty International Thailand, the Thai Netizen Network and iLaw wrote to the Cabinet urging them to publish the latest drafts so that people can rest assured that the laws are in compliance with human rights norms and with the report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of the right to privacy in the digital age.

Apart from a few drafts in early 2015, no updates have been leaked or published by the media. It is understood that the new laws would be rubber-stamped by the junta-appointed national legislative assembly in March after being approved by the Cabinet last summer.

Key issues raised in early drafts include the centralisation of power of all 10 digital economy laws, which includes a new frequency act, under a new Digital Economy Commission chaired by the Prime Minister. Spectrum allocation could be allocated for national security or the greater good by the DE Commission and only commercial spectrum would be regulated by the telecoms regulator which now has to report to the DE Commission.

The fact that the data privacy was under the same umbrella as computer crime and national security is another major concern.

The old draft data privacy bill also does not clearly define a data controller, causing concern that ISPs, web hosts and cloud service providers could be liable for prosecution under the data protection act.

The draft cyber security bill was criticized for not just giving blanket powers for the state to intercept and spy on citizens but also for giving indemnity to prosecution to anyone acting under the direction of the DE Commission.

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