New Thai laws allow government to access information without warrants: Report

The Thailand military government on Thursday passed a cybersecurity law that will give sweeping powers to state cyber agencies.

The Cybersecurity Act will allow state officials to seize, search, infiltrate, and make copies of computers, computer systems, and information in computers without a court warrant if an appointed committee sees it as a high-level security threat, according to Reuters.

It will also allow a separate committee, called the National Cybersecurity Committee, to summon individuals for questioning, enter private property without court orders, or request real-time access to information related to those causing the cyber threats, the report explains. For all of these instances, the relevant courts only need to be informed of such actions after they have already occurred.

The Act was approved unanimously, with 133 positive votes and no rejections, with 16 members of parliament being absent during the vote. The Act will come into effect once it is endorsed by the king and published in the Royal Gazette.

Thailand already enforces internet censorship laws and lese majeste laws — which make it illegal to criticise the monarch. The government has also previously requested social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to block content from its shores.

The passing of Thailand’s Cybersecurity Act follows other countries also enforcing stricter law surrounding cyber-information, with Australia passing its own set of encryption rules in December. 

The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act, which has been marred with criticism, allows Australian intelligence and law enforcement agencies to issue notices to access encrypted information without independent approval from a judge’s warrant, so long as there is an underlying warrant to access communications via the Act.

Since the passing of Australia’s encryption Bill however, the Senate has since passed amendments that has made it “slightly better” in safeguarding the privacy of Australians. The amendments will prohibit the implementation or creation of decryption capabilities; actions that would render authentication or encryption less effective; and an act or thing that could create a material risk to otherwise secure information or could be accessed, used, or compromised by a third party.

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