Thailand weighs law to access private cyber data

Facebook has agreed to comply with the Thai government's requests to restrict access to content on its site that violates Thai laws.
Facebook has agreed to comply with the Thai government's requests to restrict access to content on its site that violates Thai laws.PHOTO: EPA

BANGKOK • Thailand's junta is mulling over a new law that would give the authorities the power to access any private-sector computer system, a tool it says is needed against hackers.

The Bill came after the WannaCry cyber attack sparked havoc in computer systems worldwide, but it is controversial as Thailand had previously adopted cyberlaws that have been used against government critics.

The new law proposes setting up a National Cyber Security Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. It would oversee cyber defence capabilities and be authorised to access any private firm's or citizen's computer with a court order.

During "national emergencies", when the authorities have to move quickly, the Bill proposes that a court order would not be necessary and could be obtained retroactively.

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Major-General Pisit Pao-in, a member of the committee that drafted the law, said: "An emergency would mean a threat that is imminent against a large section of society, or one that endangers the country."

He said it was a "coincidence" that the Bill was made public in the same week as the WannaCry attack. But he said that type of widespread global malware hack would constitute the kind of national emergency that could trigger the government to use its powers.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2017, with the headline 'Thailand weighs law to access private cyber data'. Print Edition | Subscribe