Thai Facebook users warned over anti-monarchy 'Likes'

Thai Facebook users warned over anti-monarchy 'Likes'

Summary: Thailand Facebook users are being warned about 'liking' anti-monarchy groups on Facebook-- or face 3 to 15 years in jail under the Computer Crimes Act.

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TOPICS: Legal
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Only days after 61-year-old Amphon Tanganoppaku was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sending anti-monarchy texts, Thai users of the world's largest social network have been warned to be careful what they 'like'.

In Thailand, the monarchy are protected by lése-majesté laws that prohibit citizens for making remarks deemed offensive to them.

The 2007 Constitution of Thailand contains the clause that: "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action".

The constitution posits that anyone deemed guilty of offenses under this law can be prosecuted for 3 to 15 years in jail. Unfortunately this crime now extends to something as seemingly innocuous as 'liking' a comment on Facebook.

(Source: Flickr, CC)

Thailand's information technology minister Anudith Nakornthap warned users who may have expressed support for anti-monarchy groups on Facebook, to delete all of their reactions and posts to avoid prosecution.

He explained to the Bangkok Post that: "If they don't delete them, they can end up violating the Computer Crime Act for indirectly distributing inappropriate content".

The number of cases prosecuted under the lése-majesté laws have nearly doubled in the past few years, with 18 prosecutions in 2005, compared to 36 cases in 2010.

On top of warning users to delete their posts and police their actions, Narkonthap has sought help from Facebook itself in deleting around 10,000 pages of allegedly 'offensive' content. There spattering of 'pro-' monarchy pages have since sprouted up in the wake of this warning.

The lése-majesté laws are taken very seriously in Thailand, but the high profile case of American citizen Joe Gordon, originally born Lerpong Wichaikhammat, and programmer Surapak Puchaiseng have shown the results of online content deemed guilty of insulting of the monarchy.

Gordon was arrested in part for posting a link to an anti-monarchy book on his blog, and Puchaiseng for insulting the Royal family on Facebook.

Although the laws have drawn criticism in the West for violating freedom of speech, it appears that scrutiny of Thai citizens is only increasing.

Considering how liberally we throw around 'likes' in the West, it seems incomprehensible that we could be arrested, prosecuted and tried for doing so. Though not directly comparable, it seems less far-fetched when inflammatory Facebook posts resulted in a series of arrests and lengthy prison sentences after the England riots during the summer.

Topic: Legal

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7 comments
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  • RE: Thai Facebook users warned over anti-monarchy 'Likes'

    Thailand monarchy can kiss butt.
    MoeFugger
  • More resentment for the king

    More resentment for the Thai king when we read articles like this

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/world/asia/20-year-term-for-text-messages-against-thai-king-bhumibol.html
    pchundru
  • RE: Thai Facebook users warned over anti-monarchy 'Likes'

    "In Thailand, the monarchy are protected by l??se-majest?? laws that prohibit citizens for making remarks deemed offensive to them."

    So basically they want to be like China.

    "Although the laws have drawn criticism in the West for violating freedom of speech, it appears that scrutiny of Thai citizens is only increasing."

    Yeah, it's violating free speech. China does the same thing. Problem is, no western nation has the backbone to do anything against any nation that violates free speech.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Thai Facebook users warned over anti-monarchy 'Likes'

      @CobraA1

      It's against "free speech?" Really? As far as I know, only one country, representing a small percentage of the world's population, has any kind of documented prohibitions against violating "freedom of speech." And it takes a special kind of arrogance for that country to try and force it's beliefs on others.
      aep528
  • Songpol

    You know this old man sent text to secretary of Prime Minister (previous government). He try to challenge the Law and this case decided by judge. In Thailand we have no problem with l??se-majest?? laws because our King does not manage or govern the country. We have right to talk about King but not slander him. However there are some group (old communist, selfish politician) want to establish the presidential system.
    pepsimix
  • RE: Thai Facebook users warned over anti-monarchy 'Likes'

    I'm not at all sure that these sorts of laws do anything to protect the institutions they're intended to. From all accounts, the king of Thailand is a fine old gentleman who is genuinely respected by the vast majority of his subjects and would be even if it were completely legal to insult him.

    About the best thing that can be said about this law is that it doesn't appear (yet) to have been used to shield the king's ministers from criticism.
    John L. Ries
  • The US Gov is working hard to get something like this in place

    "Considering how liberally we throw around ???likes??? in the West, it seems incomprehensible that we could be arrested, prosecuted and tried for doing so."

    Just wait. Our own Federal Government is working hard to put in anti-bullying, more hate crime related and other internet related pieces of legislation to curb the level of anti-government criticism currently going on. They already have bogus "free speech zones" laws to restirct where people can gather and protest.

    Once they get the current Natioanl Defense AUthorization Bill passed (its in review in Congress this week) it will contain legislation that lets them bring in the military to perfomr local policing actions and detain US Citizens indefinately.
    BlueCollarCritic