🇹🇭 Thailand's 2023 Internet Freedom: Exposing the Disturbing Findings… and it’s Far from Alright!
The digital landscape in Thailand has long been under scrutiny due to concerns surrounding internet freedom and democracy. On October 12, 2023, Freedom on the Net Thailand Report was launched. This report, co-authored by Manushya Foundation, is a crucial component of the comprehensive Freedom on the Net 2023: The Repressive Power of Artificial Intelligence. It forms an integral part of Freedom House's annual assessment, which spans 70 countries worldwide, evaluating the state of internet freedom.
Does internet freedom remain under attack in Thailand?
This year’s Freedom On The Net Thailand report reveals several alarming findings that highlight the many obstacles digital rights and online freedom face in Thailand, over its evaluation period from June 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023! These revelations shed light on the allrounding threats endangering activists, opposition figures, and ordinary internet users.
These findings categorically evaluate internet freedom in three significant areas:
1. Obstacles to Access
Since 2014, Thailand's digital infrastructure has witnessed a decline in autonomy and regulatory transparency for service providers and digital technology. Notably, the selection process for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) commissioners has become tightly controlled by the government.
The Cybersecurity Act has centralized authority, placing it in the hands of government entities over public and private service providers. The law makes it easier for authorities to compel service providers to remove content deemed a threat to national security.
2. Limits on Content
A pervasive shroud of secrecy surrounds the extent of content blocking, which is often justified for reasons of national security, intellectual property violations, or hosting unauthorized VPN services.
Government pressure and threats are commonly used to compel content removal, with social media platforms complying to avoid legal repercussions. This became evident when platforms like YouTube and TikTok fully complied with the Thai government's content removal orders in June 2022.
A new decree that entered into force in December 2022 imposed stringent requirements on service providers, which are now required to comply with content-takedown requests within 24 hours.
3. User Rights Violations
Authorities continued to exploit Section 14 of the CCA, the criminal code, and other broadly worded mandates to silence opposition politicians, activists, human rights defenders, and civil society groups.
During the evaluation period of this country report, at least 50 lèse-majesté cases were recorded, with over half of them in response to online commentary. Among them, a pro-democracy activist was sentenced to 42 years in prison, later reduced to 28 years, for publishing Facebook posts “defaming” the monarchy.
The government actively monitors social media and private communications with limited, if any, oversight. A July 2022 report by Citizen Lab, iLaw, and Digital Reach found that the Thai government has likely deployed Pegasus spyware against pro-democracy advocates, researchers, and political opponents.
Thailand's digital democracy is facing great challenges, from swift content takedowns to state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, persecution of activists, and the use of surveillance technology. The key figures quoted in the report stress the importance of standing up for digital rights and freedom. We demand that the government and big tech companies comply with human rights standards and commit to safeguarding online freedom and digital democracy when fulfilling their duties and operationalizing businesses. As Thailand navigates these challenges, similar situations are happening in the region and beyond. The international community must heed the call to #StopDigitalDictatorship, ensuring that justice and freedom prevail in the digital age.
This report is not just an annual occurrence, it’s an integral part of the advocacy pursuit for democracy, freedom, and human rights in the digital era.
Access the full Thailand report at bit.ly/FOTNFullReport
#WeAreManushyan ♾ Equal Human Beings
Manushya Foundation, ⛔Internet Behind Bars: Thailand's Net Freedom Rated 'Not Free' 🤐#NetFreedom #ThailandReport 🆘 🇹🇭, 12 October 2023, available at: https://www.manushyafoundation.org/post/internet-behind-bars-thailand-s-net-freedom-rated-not-free-netfreedom-thailandreport
Freedom House, Freedom On The Net Report 2023: The Repressive Power of Artificial Intelligence, 4 October 2023, available at: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2023/repressive-power-artificial-intelligence
#StopDigitalDictatorship #PeopleOverProfit #DigitalRights #HumanRights #Equality #IntersectionalFeminism #DigitalRightsAreHumanRights #Censorship #FreedomOfExpression #OnlinePrivacy #Surveillance #DemocracyNow #DemocracyDefenders #CorporateAccountability #SaveFreeSpeech #KeepItOn #CourageOn #EqualHumanBeings #StandForJustice #FreedomOnTheNet #WhatIsHappeningInThailand
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