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  • What You Say and Don't Say




    A couple of interesting stories that should cause people to think about their behavior online.  Police recently arrested Patnaree Chankij, the mother of anti-government activist Ja New, reportedly for simply having received messages that were critical of the monarchy.  Yes, you read that correctly, arrested for receiving messages that were deemed to contain content that violated the lese majeste laws.  

    According to reports, she did not respond to these messages or in any way affirm them but the police maintain that by not refuting them, that implies endorsement of their message.  

    Combined with another story appearing last week about new computer crime legislation which would give the government new powers to "remove" content from the internet that was deemed inappropriate.  What would be considered inappropriate?  That wasn't defined.  

    Of course, in order to enforce these new computer crime laws, there's a built in assumption that monitoring of internet traffic in Thailand would need to increase.  

    As was mentioned in a Thailand Friends post #How2TweetAndNotGetArrested things used to be so easy.  When simply receiving messages can be a crime and vaguely defined standards of inappropriateness become the norm, it will become increasingly difficult to not run afoul of the law.  

    For example, let's say that you have a dispute with someone and they decide to begin sending you emails that violate lese majeste laws and then they tip off the police.  Or what if your favorite Thailand-based website is hacked and the hackers email the website's database of users messages that violate lese majeste laws?  

    It's easy to declare both scenarios as unlikely or to dismiss the arrest of Patnaree because you feel it may have had political motives but the consequences are weighty enough that it should give one pause.

    Simply saying that something that is "inappropriate" is a crime pretty much means everything is a crime depending on who is judging what inappropriate is.  It  turns any minor infraction into a fishing expedition.  Let's say that the police decide to stop you on Sukhumvit because [INSERT REASON HERE] and when they come up empty they ask to see your phone.  Every email, every text message, even what apps you have on your phone is now a potential reason to accuse you of "inappropriate" behavior.   

    It's less a matter of whether or not you feel that you're doing anything illegal, it's the severity of the law that becomes problematic as the cost to clear up this type of confusion seems to be strongly correlated with the number of years in jail being dangled in front of one's face.  With a relatively easy way to multiply the cost of resolving your legal problems, the system seems ripe for abuse.  


    Edited by FarangFarang


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