FACT’s Formal Recommendations for ‘Cybercrime’ Bill

March 25, 2007

[ภาษาไทย: ข้อเสนอของ FACT ต่อ ‘ร่าง พ.ร.บ. ความผิดคอมพิวเตอร์’]


FACT’s Recommendations for Thailand’s ‘Cybercrime’ Bill:

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has submitted formal recommendations to the 25 member committee considering the Computer-Related Crimes Act before the National Legislative Assembly.

FACT does not believe Thailand should be so eager to embrace a cybercrime law when many of the crimes are already covered by existing Thai law.

While government should avoid over-regulation, it is also incumbent to write precise laws for the benefit of society. The cybercrime bill which was tabled before the NLA by ICT Minister Dr. Sitthichai Pokaiyudom on November 15, 2006 is vague, ambiguous and imprecise despite further recommendations for changes by Thailand’s Council of State, the highest government council for determining the meaning of laws.

The ICT Minister set up a committee to consider the bill and asked for its consideration for only SEVEN days! Fortunately, some members of the committee felt the law deserved serious consideration rather than a cursory approval and rubber stamp.

What is strikingly unsurprising is that this committee is composed of no researchers, computer scientists, professionals or engineers working in the field. Nor are there representatives of non-governmental organisations working for computers and social responsibility. Nor are Thai ISPs or computer businesses represented. Furthermore, the committee has not been seeking testimony or counsel from these real-life computer users to assist their deliberations. The bill is still in committee as of March 2007.

Surely, in 2550, one doesn’t need to be a bleeding heart or a rocket scientist to see that huge penalties don’t seem to affect the crime rate. The death penalty is no less than state-sponsored murder, something we have far too much of in Thailand already.

FACT hopes the NLA will consider the application of existing law to the crimes addressed by the proposed bill before passing the bill blindly to appear to be doing something. If it chooses to adopt this bill in any form, the courts must not be bound by huge mandatory minimum sentences set in law. Judges have a wealth of long experience with which to consider each legal case on its individual circumstances.

FACT submits that government must be accountable and transparent in computer search and seizure with a single government posting to take full responsibility.

Furthermore, all Internet log data must be considered the computer user’s private property and must not be held by government or Internet Service Providers without a proper search warrant issued by a court of law. Computer users pay a monthly subscription fee to ISPs which guarantees their records are the user’s private property.

FACT also recommends that Internet traffic effected by telephone modem, ADSL, DSL, Cable, Electric carrier, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, Bluetooth and any other system not examined or put into future use to enable the user to connect to the Internet, be considered to be telephone communication and therefore protected from eavesdropping, monitoring, logging or record-keeping, as per Section 37 of the 1997 Constitution–Freedom of Communication.

Many sections of the bill could easily be interpreted so that they may be used for government excesses in political repression and the silencing of dissent.

For example, the issue of pornography is adequately criminalised by existing Thai law. Section 15 of the bill actually makes altering images with products such as Adobe Photoshop illegal.

The most telling aspect of government unrestrained by common sense is that the Computer-Related Crimes Bill seeks to impose capital punishment and life imprisonment for some computer crimes.

There must be a better solution than more lawyers, more judges, more criminals, more prisons. We must always defer to the wide experience of the judiciary and note that the penalties in this law must be suggested, not required, of the courts, leaving room for extenuating circumstances.

Better no law at all, than frontier justice…

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

2 Responses to “FACT’s Formal Recommendations for ‘Cybercrime’ Bill”

  1. […] up: FACT’s Formal Recommendations for ‘Cybercrime’ Bill Posted by facthai Filed in […]

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