On 1 Dec, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology inaugurated the Cyber Security Operation Centre (CSOC) to suppress cyber crimes, including in particular offences against the monarchy.
The Centre is situated in Building 9 of TOT Plc on Chaeng Watthana Rd. The inauguration was attended by representatives from all the armed forces, the National Security Council, the National Intelligence Agency, the Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice.
According to ICT Minister Grp Cpt Anudith Nakornthap, the CSOC is an upgrading of the Internet Security Operation Centre (ISOC) which was set up in 2010, and will employ up-to-date technology in dealing with inappropriate content on the internet, especially social media such as Facebook and Twitter, through which offensive materials can be distributed more easily and quickly.
‘To worship and protect the monarchy is an important duty of the government which has been announced in its policy statement to Parliament. So it is the main duty of the Ministry to pursue the government’s policy to protect the monarchy, particularly in online social networks by using up-to-date information technology to control crime with the utmost efficiency,’ Anudith said.
The Minister said that during the three months (Sept – Nov) since he took office, the ministry had blocked over 60,000 URLs or pages, compared with over 70,000 during the previous three years. This shows the intention of this government to demonstrate its loyalty to His Majesty the King, he said.
He attributed the increased numbers of blocked URLs to the increasing use of social media which allows users to distribute and share information at a more rapid rate and on a wider scale, in contrast to previously when offensive content was largely restricted to webboards.
Previously, in order to block internet content, the MICT would seek court orders and then ask local Internet Service Providers to block them or shut them down. However, this was able to block only local access, while ‘dangerous’ content was still available for those who lived abroad, he said.
So the MICT has recently asked ISPs or website owners abroad directly for cooperation. With tip-offs from the public, the Ministry’s officials would collect information and send it to them together with an explanation in English making comparisons to similar crimes in that specific country. Anudith said that this method had the merit of ‘making other countries understand the importance of the monarchy and suppressing inappropriate content at the source.’
According to the Minister, CSOC will recruit about 20 more staff members to boost its efficiency, and the Ministry is planning to amend the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.
Recently, the MICT sent information about offences against the monarchy on the internet to police at the Technology Crime Suppression Division to make arrests.
‘It is expected that soon there will be good news about the arrest of culprits who distributed inappropriate information offensive to the high institution,’ he said, adding that the delay in this case and the lack of arrests were because the Ministry had to find evidence that could clearly identify the culprits so that they would not arrest the wrong persons.
According to the MICT, there are currently 17 million internet users in Thailand, compared to 2 million in 2000, and 13 million of them are Facebook users, 84% under 34 years old.
Jirawan Bunperm, Permanent Secretary of the MICT, said that the Ministry had run an online royal blessing programme through www.welovekingonline.com to allow people to show their loyalty to His Majesty the King by signing on as well wishers. They can choose from among 9 different e-postcards, each of which contains a photograph of His Majesty the King and a video clip in a series entitled ‘Doing good without being seen’, which documents His Majesty’s royal duties.
The public can also choose from 5 well-wishing statements: 1. Long Live the King; 2. May His Majesty have Good Health; 3. May His Majesty Recover Quickly; 4. May His Majesty Long Reign over Siam; and 5. Unite All Hearts to Worship His Majesty the King Who has Endured to Secure Peace for Thais.