Thailand's Ministry of a Digital Economy and Society plans to open a 'Fake News' Center by November 1st at the latest. The minister has said that the centre will focus on four categories of internet censorship.
Digital Minister Puttipong Punnakanta,
said that the coordinating committee of the Fake News Center has set up four subcommittees to screen the various categories of news which might 'disrupt public peace and national security':
natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, dam breaks and tsunamis;
economics, the financial and banking sector;
health products, hazardous items and illegal goods,
and of course, government policies.
The Fake News Center will analyse, verify and clarify news items and distribute its findings via its own website, Facebook and Line (a Whatsapp like messaging service that is the dominant in much of Asia).
The committee meeting considered
protocols to be used and plans to consult with representatives of major social media platforms and all cellphone service providers. It will encourage them to take part in the delivery of countermeasures to expose fake news.
Thailand's rubber-stamp parliament has unanimously passed a new cyber-crime law that strengthens the junta's ability to police the web and repress criticism.
The junta has banned protests, muzzled the press, blocked scores of websites and used
already stringent cyber and defamation laws to prosecute critics over everything from Facebook comments to investigative reports on rights abuses.
The new law is even more vaguely-worded than its predecessor, broadening the scope of the
government's surveillance and censorship powers. It allots up to five years in prison for entering false information into a computer system that jeopardises national security, public safety, national economic stability or public infrastructure, or
causes panic .
One of the most controversial additions is the creation of a five-person committee that can seek court approval to remove online content considered a breach of public morals . The definition (of this term) is not written
in any law, it is just up to the committee.
Another new clause empowers authorities to request user and traffic data from internet service providers without a court warrant.
According to Thai Netizen Network, the cabinet has given the green light to the proposed Cyber Security bill to establish a National Committee for Cyber Security, under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES), whose former title was the
Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT). The Cyber Security Bill was one of eight proposed bills on telecommunications which are aimed at restructuring and tightening control of telecommunications in Thailand.
In the draft, the
National Committee for Cyber Security will be operated under the supervision of the Minister of Digital Economy and Society to oversee threats to national cyber security, which is defined as cyber threats related to national security, military security,
stability, economic security, and interference on internet, satellite, and telecommunications networks.
Most importantly, the committee is authorized to access all communication traffic via all communication devices, such as post,
telephone, mobile phone, internet, and other electronic devices. The committee will also have the authority to order all public and private organizations to cooperate against any perceived threats to national cyber security.