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Thai police get tough Net laws

Taking effect today, a new law allows police officers or government inspectors to seize computers on private premises suspected of containing pornographic material or evidence in connection with either general criminal activities or cyber crimes.

Published on July 18, 2007

The 2007 Computer-related Crimes Act also prevents unauthorised applications and access made to other people's computers, as well as alteration, deletion or destruction of the information of others.

Impostors using others' identities to send slanderous messages, or those who flood information on discussion forums are also subject to criminal penalties under the law, proposed and drafted by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) and enforced by the Information and Communications Technology Ministry.

  Web snare

Key conditions in the Computer-related Crimes Act

Concerning violators

Article 8: Those who conduct whatever acts electronically to intercept data being transferred between others' computers, when such data is not for public use, are subject to three years jail and/or a Bt60,000 fine.

Article 9: Those who unlawfully damage, destroy, delete, alter, or modify, wholly or partly, information on other's computers: subject to three years jail and/or a Bt100,000 fine.

Article 11: Those who send data or electronic mails to others without revealing their identity, or by posing as someone else, in an act that disrupts the others' normal computer use: subject to a Bt100,000 fine.

Concerning government inspectors

Article 18: Inspectors are required to minimally access information on targeted computers and, if unable, are required to produce solid evidence to owner of private premises to support their suspicion over illegal activities and then seize the computers, without court warrants. Entry will be only during daytime and only after showing their ID cards.

Article 22: Inspectors must keep all information confidential except when they take action against state officials with such information in hand, or when court approval is available.

The Act also subjects those circulating pornographic material or libellous content through e-mails to heavy fines.

The Act originated from anti-hacking efforts a few years ago when Nectec began its fight against the practice and later studied online intrusions. But other online crimes have also been included in the law.

The Act also requires Internet service providers (ISPs) to keep log files of bandwidth consumption and Internet traffic and records of individual users for 90 days.

Nectec director Pansak Siriruchatapong said the Act, in theory, would provide benefits to the country as a whole. However, he expressed concern about the capability of officials, who are required to have knowledge of computers.

Nectec's legal specialist Surangkana Wayapard said the new Act was expected to set a standard and to give confidence to e-commerce businesses, national security forces, and e-business transactions. It will also encourage electronic transactions, security on the Internet, and electronic commerce in Thailand while discouraging anti-authoritarian people from carrying out illegal activities on the network.

Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, vice president of the Thai E-Commerce Association, said the Act had both pros and cons. The disadvantages would immediately subject the business sector to financial burdens with the mandatory storage of log files, new servers and storage units, especially firms with a huge amount of information, Net traffic and transactions.

On the positive side, the Act signified the government's official and serious involvement, and legitimate role, in tackling online crimes with newer technology.



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