Online freedom regressing in Thailand
Revisions to Thailand's Computer Crime Act of 2007 could potentially further limit Internet freedoms within the country, according to Global Voices Online.
Online censorship is becoming an increasingly pressing issue in the country as the state of journalism and expression continues to evolve with the Internet. The country currently has in place what is known as the Lese-Majeste law, which prohibits "insulting" the royal family in the country. This has already led to the imprisonment of a number of journalists and citizens for using cyberspace as a forum to insult the king.
Reforms to Computer Crime Act
These kinds of actions make it difficult for many journalists to operate within the country given the fact that any form of government criticism could be interpreted as an insult directed towards the royalty. Now, this could become even more difficult, according to Global Voices Online, as the country's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology looks to reform an internet act that would allow them to make shutdown website without having to get a court order.
As a result, a number of media groups have come out against these proposed amendments, including the Thai Journalists Association, Thai Broadcasting Journalists Association, Online New Providers Association, Information Technology Reporters and Academic Specialists on Computer Law Group. They have said that these changes would prevent individuals rights from being able to access information, the news source noted.
According to the Freedom House Freedom of the Press Report, Thailand's press freedom as a whole for 2013 moved from a "Partly Free" status to "Not Free" during 2013 because of these kinds of court actions, specifically citing the Lese-Majeste law. Both the parliament and the prime minister have explicitly said they were unwilling to talk about the measures.
These kinds of actions have had ripple effects for writers throughout the country, according to the organization. Not only does this make it difficult for these critics to issue their thoughts on government actions, it makes them wary of reporting on these kinds of cases. In doing so, this issue runs the risk of going unnoticed, and creates a pattern of self-censorship.
These laws make it difficult for journalists to operate within the country without fear of censorship or even jail time. As a result, the country has been issued a Press Freedom Score of 62 by Freedom House. If it wishes to improve upon these marks the government will need to create an environment that is more accepting of this kind of content even if it is sometimes unflattering.