Police threaten hackers of government websites with 5 years in jail

Thai police have threatened to use the Computer Crime Act against anyone attacking a government website to protest the single internet gateway plan.

At around 6 pm on Wednesday, 30 September 2015, www.mict.co.th, the official website of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT), went down after it was attacked by internet users who are against the Thai authorities’ proposal to eliminate multiple internet gateways.

On the same night, www.thaigov.co.th, the website of Government House, and www.mof.co.th, the Ministry of Finance website, also went down after similar online attacks by the same group of anti-single gateway netizens.

The attacks were launched after an online campaign went viral on the internet, calling on anti-single gateway netizens to attack the government websites at 10 pm on Wednesday, with the MICT website as the first target. The site, however, went down several hours before the scheduled attack.

After the attack, Thairath News reported that the Crime Suppression Division of the Thai Police announced that attackers of government websites could be charged under Article 10 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act. The police added that they are capable of tracking down the identities of people who took part in the online attack.

Article 10 of the Computer Crime Act stipulates that any person who commits any act that causes the working of a third party's computer system to be suspended, delayed, hindered or disrupted to the extent that the computer system fails to operate normally shall be subject to imprisonment for no longer than five years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand baht or both.

The cabinet under Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, last month gave the green light to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) and relevant agencies to push ahead with the process to implement a single gateway internet system before the end of the 2015 budget year.

The plan to reduce the number of internet gateways was initially proposed by Pol Gen Somyos Pumpanmuang, the former chief of the Royal Thai Police, in June 2015. He reasoned that through a single gateway system, it will be much easier for the state authorities to monitor, filter, delete, and intercept information on the internet that could be deemed inappropriate.

Arthit Suriyawongkul, coordinator of the Thai Netizen Network (TNN), an Internet freedom advocacy group, told Prachatai that the idea to reduce the internet gateways to one was proposed only a few days after the 2014 coup d’état by the then MICT Permanent Secretary.

He mentioned that the idea was formulated under the logic that Thai people at present use social media inappropriately without control.

“We can see that this sort of idea came together with the coup d’état,” said Arthit.