Privacy Laws Related to Information Technology in Thailand


This is a paper I wrote today for one of my classes. The subject I chose was “Privacy laws in relation to information technology.” I chose to narrow it down even more. I have a hard time writing a paper unless it catches my interest, in which case I can turn it out from beginning to end (including research and formatting) in about two hours at most for a short one. I just turned this in, so I don’t know my grade yet.

Privacy Laws Related to Information Technology Use in Thailand

By

Rhonda Patterson

IFSM201 – Concepts and Applications of Information Technology

May 03, 2015

While it is good that Thailand is starting to acknowledge the need for information technology legislation in regards to privacy, many believe the laws are too vague or reach too broadly. There is much concern that they will hurt Thailand in the global economy rather than help the country. Even though there are more people using mobile technology than there are Thai citizens (Saiyasombut, 2015), Thailand’s government has not enacted any digital privacy laws as of yet, only just drafting them in January of this year. Eight bills in total were created, although none have become actual laws yet (Legal expert shreds data security bill, 2015).

While it is good that Thailand is starting to acknowledge the need for information technology legislation in regards to privacy, many believe the laws are too vague or reach too broadly, while at the same time are too restrictive. The cyber laws also take control away from the public or committees, giving it to a select few in the Thailand’s military government. There is much concern that these laws will hurt Thailand in the global economy rather than help the country, as many companies will not wish to do business with a country who could potentially file charges against them or even seize their private information due to misinterpretation of the laws, whether on purpose or by accident.

For example one of the eight bills, The Data Protection Bill, was originally set up to be overseen by a group that consisted of members of protection committees whose interests are solely protecting the citizens of Thailand. Somewhere along the way this changed, and the bill now shows the Secretary of the National Security Council governing it instead. This draws concerns that the government may use the law more for their own reasons, than to protect those whom the laws were originally meant to keep from harm – the people and businesses of and working in Thailand.

In an article for the Bangkok Post, Suchit Leesa-nguansuk states, “The data protection bill as written is likely to impede the flow of foreign investment by technology firms, because ambiguity in the legislation is creating obstacles (…)

The draft bill also imposes legal burdens on foreign tech companies as responsibility falls solely on the data controller (Legal expert shreds data security bill, 2015).”

There is no clear definition of a data controller or data processor other than they are the entity who controls and processes the data. This could be interpreted as anyone from the content creator to the web host, internet service provider, or even the search engine showing web content results. It is understandable that with the growing ASEAN[1] economic community, many Thais are worried they will no longer be considered as a major technological player in the business world due to both the ambiguity and restrictiveness of the new cyber laws as they are written, because with such a broad definition, many economists worry that companies will be uncomfortable doing business in Thailand (Legal expert shreds data security bill, 2015).

In response to the need for governance in the current technological landscape, the government of Thailand created the National Cyber Security Agency, which has been responsible for creating the cyber laws mentioned previously. The concern of many Thais is that the agency is made up of a majority of military people who were appointed by the current government in charge, with little oversight from the public sector. Many are concerned that censorship has been increasing, rather than protections simply being put into place (Sim, 2015).

In an article from this past January, Shuan Sim stated that the German government was forced to cancel an annual press freedom briefing being held in Thailand. This briefing mostly covered the issues that journalists are having under the new Thai regime. Sim further states that many, such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, are worried that Thailand is going to use the laws as they are written to restrict information, only allowing that which they deem satisfactory for public consumption to be reported. In fact, as of the article’s printing, the actual wording of the laws have not been made public, even though they have been voted on and passed by the National Legislative Assembly in Thailand (Sim, 2015).

One of the main issues with this is that the law that allows the government to seize information ranging from postal and electronic mail to phone records and computers at large, is that they can do so without getting any kind of warrant simply by calling a risk to national security. They do not have to prove what that risk is (Agence France-Presse, Bangkok, 2015).  This is a slippery slope for the Thai government.

While it seems that Thailand’s government is going backwards with their cyber laws, it is good to know that the people of Thailand are very involved in keeping up with their government’s activities. They wish to move forward within the new ASEAN community, and to be seen as current and successful in the business and technology worlds. As history teaches us, while the basic structure of the Kingdom of Thailand remains the same, the government changes often. If the current policies being enacted by the military junta[2] cause negativity for Thailand, most likely, the government will change again.

Bibliography

Agence France-Presse, Bangkok. (2015, January 27). Thai junta chief defends controversial cyber law plans. Retrieved May 03, 2015, from The Jakarta Post: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/01/27/thai-junta-chief-defends-controversial-cyber-law-plans.html

Cecile Park Publishing, Ltd. (2015, January 28). Privacy this Week. Retrieved May 03, 2015, from Data Guidance: http://www.dataguidance.com/dataguidance_privacy_this_week.asp?id=3184

HG.org. (n.d.). Information Technology Law. Retrieved May 03, 2015, from HG.org Legal Resources: http://www.hg.org/information-technology-law.html

Legal expert shreds data security bill. (2015, January 26). Bangkok Post. doi:GALE|A398822181

Saiyasombut, S. (2015, February 25). Thailand’s new cyber laws – Part 4: Bad for business, too! Retrieved May 03, 2015, from Asian Correspondent: http://asiancorrespondent.com/130894/thailands-new-cyber-laws-part-4-bad-for-business-too/

Sim, S. (2015, January 29). Thailand Internet Censorship: Junta Defends Cybersecurity Laws, Orders Press Freedom Briefing Canceled. Retrieved May 03, 2015, from International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.com/thailand-internet-censorship-junta-defends-cybersecurity-laws-orders-press-freedom-1799018

[1] Association of Southeast Asian Nations, formed in 1967 for political and economic stability in the regions.

[2] Military group that takes a country by force, in this case the new ruling government of Thailand, even though there is a King in place who provides stability for the country’s people.

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