The Deputy Police Chief has confirmed that clicking ‘like’ on lèse majesté and seditious Facebook content is a criminal offence while a computer crime expert refuted the police claim.
After two people were arrested and charged under Article 116, the sedition law, for sharing infographics on the Rajabhakti Park corruption scandals with one facing charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for clicking ‘like’ on Facebook, Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, the Deputy Police Chief, on Monday, 14 December 2015, told the media that liking or sharing ‘illegal’ online content on Facebook constitutes a crime.
The Deputy Police Chief said that Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act clearly prohibits the importation and reproduction of ‘false’ information which could cause panic, damage individuals, or harm national security, and online content of a pornographic nature.
He warned that people should be informed about the act in order not to violate the law.
In addition, Pol Gen Srivara confirmed that more people will be arrested for distributing infographics on the Rajabhakti Park scandals which allege that Gen Prayut Chan-o-chan, the junta leader and Prime Minister, and his wife were involved in corruption.
According to Sawitree Suksri, a law lecturer from Thammasat University who is an expert on the computer crime, clicking ‘like’ on Facebook content deemed illegal, however, does not constitute a criminal offence under the Computer Crime Act.
“In reality, individuals in many cases do not intend to distribute to others information that could be illegal by clicking ‘like’. Therefore, in principle, clicking ‘like’ does not violate the Computer Crime Act,” Sawitree told Prachatai.
The academic said that under the Criminal Code, criminal offenses must be proven by solid evidence and the intention of the accused. Therefore, sharing online data deemed ‘illegal’ might constitute a criminal offence, but not pressing ‘like’ on Facebook because it cannot be proved that the accused wanted to distribute the data.
If some people gestured that they agree with certain statements deemed defaming to others by nodding, does it mean that those who nodded have committed defamation as well? Sawitree explained.
“If we interpret it without prejudice, people comment [on Facebook] because they wanted to express opinions, press share to distribute the online data, and press ‘like’ to state their agreement or approval. We can prove the intention here. These are the ‘traditional’ functions that people use worldwide,” said Sawitree.
She added “if you say that you interpret the law without twisting it, then you have to look at the ‘traditions’ [of how people use Facebook functions] and what they intend by it.”