Bloggers Held Under New Thailand Computer Crime Law

Online writers posted comments 'insulting to the monarchy'

If you thought Germany's new computer crime laws were strict, try posting an offensive comment on the Web in Thailand. (See Hacking Germany's New Computer Crime Law.)

According to the independent newspaper Prachatai, at least one person is being detained in the Bangkok Remand Prison for crimes against the new Computer Crime Act, which went into effect in July. The new legislation, which was initially positioned as a crackdown on online pornography, outlaws the posting of "offensive" material.

Over the weekend, the Financial Times quoted a high-level Thai official as saying that in the past couple of weeks, authorities have arrested and detained two Thais who posted comments "insulting to the monarchy" on Web bulletin boards. Other media have tried to get government officials to confirm this report and give details, without success.

Today, however, Prachathai said that "a reliable source" has confirmed that the Thai government is holding a 36-year-old computer programmer who posted comments on Web boards using a well-known alias. According to the source, the person was detained for six days at the Police Crime Suppression Division office before being transferred to the remand prison on August 30. He has yet to see his family members or consult a lawyer, according to the source.

Several media proponents, including Reporters Without Borders and Thailand's Fah Deaw Kan publishing house, have expressed concern over the reports and called for the Thai government to provide details and give the detainee (or detainees) their rights. At this posting, the Thai government had not responded publicly.

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