Thailand Close to Censoring the Internet with a New National Firewall

In a move that takes its cue from China, Thailand’s military government is all set to substantially diminish the country’s Internet freedom and the right to privacy among its citizens with the introduction of a new Internet firewall. The goal, as with any state-imposed firewall, is to control and monitor the flow of information coming into the country on the Internet.

The Thai government is officially looking into setting up a firewall in the country, with a resolution passed by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand and his cabinet. The official government release can be found here.

General Prayut’s cabinet ordered Thailand’s National Police Department, the Information & Communication Ministry and the Justice Ministry to set up a single gateway Internet, according to the release.

A follow-up resolution issued subsequently by the cabinet also mandated the agencies to look into any laws that would need to be enacted or amended and reporting them back to the cabinet, reports TelecomAsia.

The Thai Government Is Being Subtle about the Move

The order to look into creating a single gateway was given on 30 June by the cabinet, with the subsequent order to check into relevant laws on 4 September. The general public nor the media didn’t catch a whiff of any such activity, yet.

Eventually, it was Twitter user ‘@sikachu’ who discovered the government’s new resolutions while browsing through the government’s website.

Thailand has a past with not being entirely forthcoming when it comes to embracing Internet connectivity.

“From an internet connectivity point of view, one sees Thailand at the center of the region, yet it seems like all the major cable systems skirt around Thailand, coming up through Malaysia then jumping into the sea before surfacing again in Vietnam,” Telecom Asia wrote.

Some say it was CAT’s (Thailand’s state-run agency for all telecommunications) fault as it tried to charge exorbitant fees, so much so that everyone decided to go submarine instead of overland.

Prem Sichanugrist aka @Sikachu on Twitter also pointed to the bad strategy being employed with the planned implementation of the firewall.

Having a single gateway as the entry point of all Internet communication to a country leaves room for failure if there is no backup in place.

In a 2014 study by research group Freedom House, Thailand was ranked 52nd among 65 countries with the least free Internet, just about edging Iran, Pakistan, and China.

For the Thai people, Internet freedom and online privacy are about to get worse.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.