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Cyber-crime law being revised

ETDA aims for balance between rights and freedom, seeks public participation



The Electronic Transactions Development Agency has launched the process of reforming the country's computer crime law and expects new legislation to be announced within the next three years.

Surangkana Wayuparb, chief executive officer of the ETDA, said the agency is arranging a public hearing so that there could be widespread participation in the revision of the law, which was implemented five years ago.

The law still leaves problems about cyber-crime and the cyber-environment, and people are concerned about the balance between freedom of speech and the exercise of authority to maintain the right to privacy, she said.

"Thais generally still do not have awareness [of cyber-crime issues] or realise the need for information security, which is a new phenomenon. Meanwhile, other countries' governments have better realisation and awareness on information security, which is a sensitive issue involving a balance between security and the liberty of people as a whole," said Surangkana.

The ETDA expects its draft revision of the computer crime law to be completed in the next six months. The agency will then conduct a further public hearing before submitting the draft for the Cabinet's approval.

She said that the agency had established focus groups covering five areas: freedom of speech; law enforcement; consumers and victims; hard-core security versus professional security; and evaluation and revision of computer crime law in order to balance and develop the law to protect against threats, the country and all those in the cyber-security environment.

Heightened awareness needed

The ETDA also aims to improve the level of cyber-security awareness in Thailand and the region, and has set up the National Cyber Security Committee in order to enhance the strength of information security against major threats such as hacking.

Information security in Thailand is at a worrying level, she said, as Thai organisations also have less understanding than their regional peers about the need to invest in this area.

"The agency has developed a lab to provide knowledge to the police to improve their understanding of digital evidence and solve the problem of law enforcement," said Surangkana.

The overall revision of computer crime law is expected to take three years, and will include the development of best practice and a code of conduct to encourage the law's use against new threats and cyber-crime from the Internet in order to create the right balance between public liberty and the right to protection and privacy, she said.

For example, it will cover the rights of Internet users, especially students that develop their own blogs and websites to disclose private information, a practice that is open to abuse and often very dangerous in the online environment.

The agency will therefore announce an authentication framework to reduce risks for users and protect them by asking them to provide their ID number when entering a public domain on the Internet.

The cyber-crime law, officially called the Computer-Related Crime Act BE 2550, aims to support business operations and people's life style when it comes to using technology, especially computers, to facilitate their activities.

However, since enforcement of the law five years ago, there have been requests from several sectors for a review of the Act's principles and the addition of a number of issues not covered in the original legislation.

The ETDA was established as an academic agency with the key mission of enhancing the value of electronic transactions and promoting the development of technology laws as a tool for such transactions to drive the economy and to improve people's quality of life.

Thailand has three laws - the computer crime law, the e-transaction law and the data protection law - related to information technology and cyber security.

They are variously under amendment and/or subject to approval for implementation and enforcement.


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