Thailand Government Wants To Undermine Website Encryption, Hold ISPs Responsible For Third-Party Content

from the and-that's-in-addition-to-the-country's-native-toilet-snakes dept

Thailand's government has never been considered a friend of internet services or users, thanks to its interest in suppressing dissent/ensuring its king remain unoffended. It has often claimed it has no interest in censoring the internet -- sometimes in statements delivered while shutting down livestreams of discussions with ISPs on how to better censor the internet.

Unsurprisingly, it's not a fan of encryption. The Thai government is currently amending its Computer Crimes Act in hopes of updating its censorship abilities. In addition to codifying ISP compliance with government demands, it's also looking to destroy anything standing between it and full control of internet activity.

On Thursday, 26 May 2016, the Thai Netizen Network (TNN) leaked a report, ‘Ministry of Information and Communication Technology,’ which proposes an amendment to Article 20 of the Computer Crime Act. The amendment will provide the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) with the authority to access, block or delete encrypted content on websites.

“The Minister may issue a regulation for Internet Service Providers to delete or restrain the dissemination of computer data, in accordance with evolving technology,” says the seventh page of the document, leaked by TNN. The document specifically names the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, one of the most common encryption technologies, saying that to delete or stop the dissemination of data under this protocol, the Ministry requires special methods and mechanisms.

The justification for attacking website encryption is the usual: to access evidence of criminal activity or, more vaguely, content that could result in "public disturbance." The latter is nothing more than the government granting itself the power to shut down anything it doesn't like by blocking or deleting the content. SSL makes blocking websites difficult, so naturally it has to go.

And that's not the last of the government's terrible ideas. It's also looking to hold ISPs responsible for content posted by third parties.

“Any provider who either cooperates or conspires in, or permits a violation of Article 14 within their service provision, shall be punishable in the same way as a violator of Article 14,” reads Article 15 of the MICT’s draft amendment.

Here's Section 14 as it reads now:

Section 14. If any person commits any offence of the following acts shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand baht or both:

- that involves import to a computer system of forged computer data, either in whole or in part, or false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage to that third party or the public;

- that involves import to a computer system of false computer data in a manner that is likely to damage the country's security or cause a public panic;

- that involves import to a computer system of any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom's security under the Criminal Code;

- that involves import to a computer system of any computer data of a pornographic nature that is publicly accessible;

- that involves the dissemination or forwarding of computer data already known to be computer data under (1) (2) (3) or (4).

Section 230 inverted, basically. Whatever is done by the least of ISPs users is done by the ISP (for all intents, purposes, and punishments).

But, hey, on the bright side, the government is looking to torture/kill/disappear fewer dissidents and activists at some undertermined point in the future. (h/t The Grugq)

The human rights community today signaled cautious optimism about the interim cabinet’s move to criminalize torture and enforced disappearance by public officials in Thailand.

Endorsing the bill nine years after its adoption was first urged, the cabinet’s resolution said the law would “enhance the effectiveness” of existing laws and serve “to raise human rights protection in Thailand to the same par with the international standard,” according to an unofficial translation.

Considering the UN and the European Court of Human Rights both consider internet access to be a basic human right, it appears Thailand is still several years away from reaching the lower rungs of international humans rights standards. And by granting itself increased control of the internet, the government is guaranteeing it will soon be encroaching on the limited amount of human rights turf it has ceded.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:56am

    I see a great business opportunity, a distributed Thai language based social media platform that allows anonymity, does not save log files, and never deletes anything. Oh and is not based in Thailand. Imagine the sheer quantity of adds you could push to a site like that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      BusinessManJr, 6 Jun 2016 @ 7:44pm

      Re:

      I see a better business opportunity.

      "SSL makes blocking websites difficult, so naturally it has to go"
      If they're going to ban SSL completely then any and all financial transactions carried out in the country would have to be done in the clear...

      Opportunity awaits!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Jun 2016 @ 12:07pm

    On Thursday, 26 May 2016, the Thai Netizen Network (TNN) leaked a report,

    Wait... people are still using the word "Netizen" in 2016? I might be wrong, but I think the last time I heard anyone say that was in the 90s.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 1 Jun 2016 @ 12:57pm

    Bare Necessities Before Internet Connection

    Considering the UN and the European Court of Human Rights both consider internet access to be a basic human right, it appears Thailand is still several years away from reaching the lower rungs of international humans rights standards.

    Really an internet connection is considered a basic human right by the UN and EU?

    There are over 1 billion people across the globe without access to clean drinking water, a stable supply of food, housing or medical care.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_water

    Wouldn't it be prudent to concentrate our finite resources on the bare necessities of life for all humans before we concern ourselves with global WiFi schemes or whatever other means are developed to provide internet service to all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:51pm

      Re: Bare Necessities Before Internet Connection

      Provide people with a days worth of food, and you have fed them for a day, build them shelter and wells etc., and you have to maintain them for them. Give the the means to learn to provide for themselves and they can become independent. Give them the means to organize, and they have a chance of taking control of their own destinies despite their own governments efforts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 2 Jun 2016 @ 12:19am

      Re: Bare Necessities Before Internet Connection

      "There are over 1 billion people across the globe without access to clean drinking water, a stable supply of food, housing or medical care. "

      Those are also considered human rights by those organisations - e.g http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ - Article 25

      I don't think anyone's saying that internet access should be placed above drinking water, it's just that it also exists on the same list.

      Plus, many of the people who are suffering without access to such things are suffering because of the regimes under which they live. Internet access can help people communicate with the outside world to advertise their plight and help gather support to remove such regimes from without and within.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 3 Jun 2016 @ 2:42am

        Re: Re: Bare Necessities Before Internet Connection

        There goes the neoliberals' insistence that we've never been better off... by percentage of GDP. As I've pointed out to them on numerous occasions, that doesn't mean that individuals are sharing in those percentages, does it? They usually change the subject at that point.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2016 @ 4:14am

      Re: Bare Necessities Before Internet Connection

      Yeah, because you obviously can't have both, huh?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2016 @ 11:32am

      Re: Bare Necessities Before Internet Connection

      basic right - not basic necessity

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 1:04pm

    when is the USA going to realise that whatever and whenever it pulls the shit tricks that the DoJ, NSA etc want, that the rest of the planet follows? they think they can get away with it because good ol' US of A is doing it! all that leads to is a planet that is far more insecure than it was yesterday and with far more chance of it destroying itself! until the various security forces are curbed, and it's gonna take some doing considering how long they have been allowed to do what they want, with no one reining them in, regardless of whether it was legal or not, the harder the task! those who are so paranoid are in positions of great power and are behind this type of thing. the problem immediately being how to stop them without paying the ultimate price on the way, because they will stop at nothing to turn the place into a giant POW camp!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 Jun 2016 @ 2:18pm

    "Trust me", the motto of liars

    Oh yeah, the same government that is only now getting around to doing something about the torture and/or murder of people that that government doesn't like now wants the ability to look at and/or block anything online that they don't like, and have access to the information needed to find out who posted what online.

    What could possibly go wrong with that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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