New internet law further represses free speech in Thailand

Rights group says Thai government now has sweeping powers to censor, stifle free speech and silence critics

December 21, 2016
Thailand's new Computer-Related Crime Act gives overly broad powers to the government to restrict free speech, enforce surveillance and censorship, and retaliate against activists, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Dec. 21.

Despite concerns expressed by civil society, business, and diplomatic representatives, the controversial law was unanimously adopted on Dec.16 by the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly, said HRW in a statement.

"The adoption of the Computer-Related Crime Act drastically tightens the chokehold on online expression in Thailand," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "Hundreds of activists have been prosecuted since the May 2014 coup for exercising their freedom of expression online, and these latest amendments will make it even easier for the junta to punish its critics."

Before the law was passed, more than 300,000 people signed a petition demanding that the National Legislative Assembly reject the controversial amendments, which they saw as an infringement of privacy and freedom of expression on the internet.

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