The junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has passed an amendment of the Computer Crimes Act, despite a petition opposing the draft gaining over 300,000 signatures. According to one expert, the new bill will not only curtail freedom of expression but drastically hurt the country’s finance technology and digital industries.
Photo from Pixabay
According to Shakrit Chanrungsakul, a finance technology investor and the CEO of the start-up FireOneOne, the amended bill will hurt internet service providers.
Since the bill allows authorities to access online data once they have “enough cause for suspicion”, internet service providers can no longer guarantee their customer’s privacy. In industries where user privacy is paramount, businesses may shift their operations to other countries with more secure laws.
Industries likely to be affected are e-banking and telecommunications. E-banking businesses rely on keeping their customers’ transactions secret. Allowing authorities to access such data would certainly damage client confidence. Telecommunication operators will also be forced to reveal chat histories and phone record of their clients.
Previously, internet service providers had a right to refuse authorities access to their data. Under the new bill however, companies face half of the sentence handed to illegal content publishers found to be using their platforms if they do not comply with authorities.
“The world is mobilised by a tremendous amount of data but Thai laws are forcing data to move abroad. This directly damages the foundation of digital economy,” said Shakrit Chanrungsakul.
In short, the amended Computer Crime Act provides greater power to authorities with very little accountability. The bill may also damage Thailand’s digital economy by forcing companies to increase their service costs, in order to offset the resources needed to collect data and to manage relationships with clients abroad.