Thailand revising cybercrime law for balance, better security

The government says current computer crime law does not address current information security issues, and is planning a public hearing for citizen participation in the law revision, which is expected to take three years.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor on

Thailand has started reforming the country's computer crime law and expects the new legislation to be announced in the next three years.

A public hearing is being arranged to allow widespread participation in the computer crime law's revision.

According to The Nation on Friday, Surangkana Wayuparb, the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA)'s CEO said the agency was arranging a public hearing to allow widespread participation in the law's revision. The ETDA is an academic agency with the key mission of enhancing the value of electronic transactions and promoting the development of technology laws.

The law, called the Computer-Related Crime Act BE 2550, aims to support business operations and citizens when it comes to technology use, especially computers, to facilitate their activities. However, since enforcement of the law five years ago, there have been requests from several sectors for a review of the Act's principles and the addition of a number of issues not covered in the original legislation.

Surangkana also explained the law left gaps in the cybercrime and the cyber environment, so people are still concerned about the balance between freedom of speech and the exercise of authority to maintain the right to privacy.

"Thais generally still do not have awareness [of cybercrime issues] or realize the need for information security, which is a new phenomenon. Meanwhile, other countries' governments have better realisation and awareness on information security, which is a sensitive issue involving a balance between security and the liberty of people as a whole," Surangkana said.

Revision process expected to take three years

The draft revision of the computer crime law is expected to be completed in the next six months, following which, the ETDA will then conduct a further public hearing before submitting the draft for the Cabinet's approval.

She said that the agency had established focus groups covering five areas--freedom of speech, law enforcement, consumers and victims, hardcore security versus professional security, and evaluation and revision of computer crime law--to balance and develop the law to protect against threats, the country and all those in the cyber-security environment.

However, the overall revision of computer crime law is expected to take three years, and will include the development of best practices and a code of conduct to encourage the law's use against new threats and cybercrime from the Internet. This is to create the right balance between public liberty and the right to protection and privacy, she said.

For example, it will cover the rights of Internet users, especially students who develop their own blogs and websites to disclose private information, a practice which open to abuse and often risky online.

Another Asian country, the Philippines, is also in the midst of revising its cybercrime law. Passed by Philippine president Benigno Aquino III in September last year, had come under fire for its vague definition of online libel, violation of personal rights and tough legal penalties for Internet defamation.

The Supreme Court then suspended the Cybercrime Prevention Act for 120 days while it deliberates if the legislation violates civil rights. but extended the temporary restraining order (TRO) until further notice in February 2013.

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