Citizen Lab Cyber Stewards Network partner EngageMedia co-hosted a public forum in Bangkok on October 17, together with the Foundation for Internet and Civic Culture, discussing the pending Internet laws in Thailand,

EngageMedia is a civil society organization that uses the Internet and other technology to facilitate social and environmental change. Based in the Asia Pacific, EngageMedia works with a network of individuals and partner organizations on research, advocacy, and skills development. EngageMedia is also collaborating with Citizen Lab on a project studying journalist security in South East Asia, with the aim of better understanding the knowledge journalists have of possible digital threats, and identity the types of digital security training that would bolster their security. Read further information on a workshop on the topic, which was presented at the 2015 Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum.

Speakers highlighted the vagueness and obscurity of the Computer Crimes Act, where the absence of precise definitions for terms could be used for the abuse of civil liberties. Content controls in the form of blocking websites online were a cause for concern. The law lacks a process by which a complaint on a website deemed to offend “public morality” could be reviewed. Under the current version of the Computer Crimes Act, website censorship remains within the sole discretion of the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MICT), with no ability to appeal their decision. It was recommended that when such a complaint is received by the MICT, any decision they make should be appealable to the independent review of a court.

The Cyber Security Act, according to one speaker, conflates ‘cyber security’ — the protection of the data system which allows for secure transactions and communications — with ‘national security,’ namely the protection of the state. More generally, the laws were said to encourage an environment of self-censorship for Thailand-based Internet providers. This was largely deemed to be the result of overly broad provisions in the pending law. It was suggested that further consultation with individuals other than ministry officials would better represent the views of Thai citizens.

Read more information about the event.