Thailand authorities call for all Wi-Fi traffic to be tracked
I have slowly seen Thailand become more and more authoritarian over the near 15 years that I have lived here. Some could probably argue that this is something that is happening on a global scale as it seems the government just has to know everything that is going on at all times.
Like most bullcrap, this law is purported to be related to "crime prevention" the same way that a plethora of other laws have that cost people money, stifled tourism (20% of this country's GDP,) and hurt small to medium businesses. I find this new one to be particularly absurd.
I'm not a fan of pretty much all government, but the one that I am subjected to the most is this one in Thailand because I live here. When i first moved here, this country was a Libertarian dream: Very low taxes, low barriers to entry on just about anything, and if you wanted to come into the country to visit, provided that Interpol and the FBI didn't have you on a list, you could stay for as long as you want. The government pretty much got the hell out of your way. Unfortunately those days are far behind us and the government becomes more and more obtrusive as the years pass on.
Despite the government getting more and more involved in your every move, the internet was still a place where you had relative freedom. That was until Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta unveiled the new regulations of the Computer Crime Act a few days ago.
This act would require that all internet traffic be logged (which is something that your ISP or mobile provider does anyway) but now it was going to extend to any place or business that provides WIFI. Do you know how many places have WIFI? All of them do.
Now every "mom and pop" shop in the entire country is going to be forced to purchase a relatively expensive "server" of sorts that is going to track the actions of every single user that logs on to their network. Showing a profound disconnect with normal people, part of the team actually suggested that smaller shops could simply copy the ID card or passport of every person who connects to the WIFI and also note the precise time that they were in the shop... because, you know, businesses have the time and resources for this sort of thing.
Obviously, this is not going over so well with the Thai population as well as the expat one. As usual, the government replies with something along the lines of "if you are not breaking the law, you have nothing to worry about" and again, this just shows the level of disconnect that exists with the powers that be.
I have lived in this country long enough to see a coup d'etat.... twice. During those times all news and media, especially from the outside world, were suppressed. Journalists were arrested and held without charges, news stations were stormed by the military. Although they later did in fact give people their rights back, the fact that they simply shut everyone up without due process was kind of frightening.
Some Thai activists have been jailed for posting anti-government messages on their Facebook profiles and at one point certain UK publications and even all of Youtube was blocked inside the country because of statements the government deemed "harmful to the stability of the Kingdom." Again, this access was later restored but that doesn't take away from the point that this should have never happened in the first place.
The Prime Minister (who himself came into power by taking it, rather than being elected) has stated "the data retention requirement is not a violation of privacy and what the authorities are asking for is the public's cooperation." It makes me wonder if this man has a very different idea of what privacy is than the "average Somchai" does.
It is because of this and a plethora of other changes to the administration of this country that is seeing a large portion of the expat community move elsewhere. I have plans to follow this course because it is just one thing after another. It makes me feel privileged though - because most of the citizens of this country don't have that option.
I used to think this place was fantastic but they seem to be sprinting towards a China-esque government-control of information. This might be the last straw for me and I now have been looking at other nearby countries to relocate to.