The National Legislative Assembly of Thailand has just passed a Cybersecurity Act criticized as authoritarian, intrusive to privacy, and allows violation of the right to have a judicial process by a competent court of law.
The Act is being dubbed “Cyber Martial Law” by activists that opposes the controversial law. Mr. Ajarin Pattanapanchai, permanent-secretary of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has assured that the law will not violate individual rights or be used arbitrary.
“The law will not be used to regulate social media, or computers or devices belonging to the people.”, said Mr. Pattanapanchai.
However, some experts like Associate Professor Kanathip Thongraweewong, who has criticized this law since 2015, and is Director of Digital Media Law Institute at Kasembandit University, told Reuters that “The scope of the law is so broad, it’s like Big Brother,”.
According to Phys.org, “The act allows state officials to seize, search, infiltrate, and make copies of computers, computer systems and information in computers without a court warrant if an appointed committee sees it as a high-level security threat”.
This isn’t the first time that this legislation has been proposed by the NLA. All prior pushes for the bill were met with protests by concerned peoples, and by legal experts.
“Every draft was completely different from the others, but the important part, which allows state officials to request people’s communications without a court order, is still there,” Yingcheep Atchanont, program manager of the legal monitoring group iLaw told reporters.
Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Associate Fellow at GIGA (German Institute of Global and Area Studies) has compared the legislation to the German model and Chinese model. Stating that the major difference between the German and Chinese legislation was that former is eligible to checks and balances of the law’s authority by parliament, independent organizations, and civil society, whereas the latter is designed to suppress democratic and minority groups.
Dr. Janjra posted on her Facebook that “the bill recently passed by the dictatorial parliament in the last few days is cleary one with a likeness of the Chinese model”.
The controversy of the Cybersecurity Act seems to be similar to Article 44, a law that bypasses due process of the law is antithetical to the imperative of law, which is to have a rule of law, and not to rule by writing up something more on the side of an authoritative command dressed as law.
Concerns of the new Cybersecurity law isn’t just about liberal rights, freedom, and privacy, but also over economical implications. Big businesses are notoriously jumpy about having their information vulnerable, and the new law is not assuring towards the protection of information to say the least. Will we be seeing businesses avoid Big Brother nosing around into their files by avoiding Thailand altogether?