More cyberterrorism greets new year in Thailand

January 5, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

More cyberterrorism greets new year in Thailand Fah Diew Kan closed!

The website for Same Sky Books, publisher of Fah Diew Kan, a magazine of Thai contemporary criticism, has been shut down by Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. The reasons given were lese-majeste comments posted to Same Sky’s public Webboard.

The ICT Ministry has previously asked Fah Diew Kan to self-censor such comments on its Webboard and Same Sky has complied. However, on this occasion no warning was given.

On the evening of January 4 Same Sky’s Internet service provider, Netservice Ltd., sent an email to FACT signer Thanaphol Eawsakul, Same Sky’s owner, to inform him that they would shut down the server hosting Same Sky and contracted to the server’s owner, Otaro Co. Limited. This server also hosted other websites which were also shut down.

This also meant that all Fah Diew Kan’s files, the company’s personal data and private property, on the server were gone.

Otaro also refused to host Same Sky in future with reason given to protect its company and the other companies for which it provides Web hosting.

This is not the first time Fah Diew Kan has been accused of lese-majeste. Sections of several issues of the magazine were considered critical of Thailand’s monarchy. Copies of Fah Diew Kan were seized under the censorship provisions of Thailand’s 1941 Printing Act. Court proceedings are still active.

The Fah Diew Kan case is remarkably similar to the closure of Midnight University by the ICT Ministry following Thailand’s military coup d’etat on September 19, 2006. Online Midnight University in Thai language concurrently petitioned the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and successfully applied for a temporary restraining order by the Administrative Court to prevent further arbitrary censorship.

This court order is still in effect but applies only to Midnight University and not other Websites.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) believes the closure of Fah Diew Kan to be illegal under Thailand’s new Computer-Related Crimes Act. All such censorship must occur solely by court order and no application was made for one. Court application must be preceded by a letter of inquiry, not immediate closure.

Furthermore, should an entire business be shut down because of private individual posts to its Webboard? Are the other Websites hosted on the same server merely unimportant collateral damage?

Two cyberdissidents were already prosecuted in 2007 under the cybercrime law for alleged lese-majeste comments they posted anonymously to Thai public Webboards. The dissidents were identified and located by police tracking their IP addresses to conduct the raid.

In these cases, the prosecution declined to proceed but can reinstate charges against them for ten years. It is widely speculated that the reason for this is there may well be crucial legal flaws in the Computer Act which render it ineffective. This may also be why the much-touted, highly-publicised Act was not used against Fah Diew Kan.

The coup’s Order No. 5 promoting Internet censorship was repealed in July 2007. The Ministry’s actions directly violate sections 14-14.5 of the Computer Act.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) is considering joining court action against the Ministry over the closure of Fah Diew Kan.

MICT’s order caused Otaro to violate the terms of its contract with Net Service and Net Service to violate its contract with Same Sky.

Same Sky is now planning to seek a Web host abroad to avoid further disruption to its business. Does MICT promote the Internet in Thailand by driving Thai companies overseas?

Once again, citing reasons of national and economic security, MICT’s actions are fit for dictatorship not democracy. MICT, the Ministry which can’t seem to keep a minister, again acts with impunity outside and above the law.

Closing Fah Diew is nothing short of cyberterrorism. Free Fah Diew Kan NOW!

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