Thai authorities block website used by anti-single gateway netizens

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) has blocked a website used by anti-single internet gateway netizens to carry out attacks on government websites.

On Sunday, 4 October 2015, the MICT blocked ‘refreshthis.com’, a website used to carry out cyber-attacks on government websites by many people opposing the junta’s plan to reduce internet gateways to one.

Before the symbolic cyber-attack on 30 September which brought down at least six government websites including www.mict.co.thwww.cattelecom.com,and www.center.isocthai.co.th of the Internal Security Operations Command, many people shared the link to refreshthis.com which makes it possible to set a time to automatically refresh certain sites repeatedly in a ‘DDos attack’ until the websites are overloaded.

After the cyber-attacks from about 6 pm on 30 September to 1 am on 1 October, Crime Suppression Division officers warned that those who carried out the attacks could face up to five years imprisonment under the 2007 Computer Crime Act. However, Uttama Savanayana, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, said that no one would be prosecuted unless certain public agencies or individuals filed charge against the attackers.

The Minister urged the public to try to understand the plan to implement the single gateway system more thoroughly, saying that it was intended to make Thailand more competitive in the online economy in line with the Digital Economy Bill. He added that the proposal is not yet definite and that MICT and other relevant agencies are now studying its feasibility.

“The government does not have a plan to implement these things, but just to study it to look after the youth. Don’t worry that internet freedom will be taken away,” said Uttama.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, said last week “I have not ordered [the government] to go ahead with this. I merely told them to study it, but there has been some misinterpretation.”

The online document from the Cabinet Secretariat, however, contradicts the PM’s recent statement.

The document showing the PM’s instruction made on 21 July 2015 shows that the junta leader requested “MICT and related agencies to speed up the process to implement immediately the single internet gateway to filter inappropriate websites and information from overseas in accordance to the Cabinet Resolution made on 30 June 2015.”

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.