Thailand embarks on mass surveillance of social media

Thailand’s technology crime suppression division has issued a draft procurement document for a system to surveil all public Facebook and Twitter accounts against a target list of up to half a million individuals that can be identified through names, keywords or even facial recognition.

Also on the list is Thailand’s most popular webboard

The procurement document draft was issued on January 19 and quietly put up for public comment as is required under government transparency rules until January 22. The document was only discovered by researchers at the blognone website on January 25.

The system will allow TCSD operatives to target individuals across the three platforms and calls for logging of all posts, comments, tags and videos of targeted individuals. The IT system also includes a case management system. The operatives can access the surveillance network through their mobile phones.

The document states that Thailand has 22.2 million Internet users (though Facebook puts it at 30 million) which means that the intent is for one in forty Thai citizens to be put under surveillance.

The TOR calls for 22 servers in two different data centers and 1 GBPS local and just 10 MBPS International bandwidth. It goes into detail as to the type of CPU and hard drives required for the system. A precise bid deposit of exactly 640,320 Baht would suggest that the exact system design has already been agreed upon and costs worked out in detail.

Applications for the project are to be taken sometime in February according to the draft.

Elsewhere ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana spent the day defending the $557 million (20 billion baht) investment in broadband infrastructure and international internet gateway reassuring everyone that it was not the much hated single gateway project.

However, Uttama did say that if the government can provide IIG connectivity cheaper, then there is no need for the private sector to invest in their own IIG.

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