Chalerm, military, and lese majeste – Part 1
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Chalerm, military, and lese majeste – Part 1

Back in August, the Bangkok Post reported:

The government will set up a war room to curb the activities of websites with lese majeste content, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said on Friday.

I won’t let lese majeste websites stay on line during this government,” said Mr Chalerm, who is in charge of justice and media.


It was reported that on 6 Dec, Chalerm and Police Chief Pol Gen Priewpan Damapong had lunch with Army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha and Minister of Defence Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapha, and concerns were raised about offensive content on the internet.  The Prime Minister appointed this committee on the following day as proposed by Chalerm.

On that, The Nation:

The political intrigue heightens as Chalerm revealed his two moves following a dinner with Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha organised the fence-mending between Chalerm and the military.

Thai Rath reports it was lunch and they have confirmation of the meeting from the Defence Minister. On December 6, the Defence Minister confirmed that he invited Chalerm to the Defence Ministry and that Prayuth (as well as Police Chief and many other members of the military brass). He said they exchanged opinions, but didn’t speak about the  91 reds killed in anyway (ซึ่งการมารับประทานอาหารพูดคุยแลกเปลี่ยนความคิดเห็น โดยในโต๊ะอาหารวันนี้ไม่ได้มีการพูดคุยเรื่อง 91 ศพคนเสื้อแดงแต่อย่างใด). Yuthasak also said that they also asked the Deputy PM to take care of Web sites and Facebook which are highly inappropriate which are very widespread now at this moment (พล.อ.ยุทธศักดิ์ กล่าวต่อไปว่า อีกเรื่องที่พูดกันมากคือ อยากให้รองนายกฯ ดูแลเรื่องเว็บไซต์ เฟซบุ๊ก ที่ไม่สมควรอย่างยิ่ง ที่เกิดขึ้นอยู่ในขณะนี้เป็นจำนวนมาก) and the Army C-in-C was very concerned about this matter as the military has the duty of defending the monarchy (ซึ่ง ผบ.ทบ.บอกว่าท่านห่วงและกังวลใจมากเรื่องนี้ เพราะทหารมีหน้าที่ปกป้องสถาบันพระมหากษัตริย์) and he didn’t want this to happen (และท่านไม่อยากเห็นสิ่งเหล่านี้เกิดขึ้น).

The Bangkok Post then on December 7:

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has offered to lead a camapaign for the suppression of websites deemed to broadcast lese majeste content.

He said on Wednesday he had submitted a proposal through the cabinet secretary-general to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for the setting up of a committee responsible for the suppression of lese majeste websites.

Mr Chalerm said he had also offered to chair the committee.

According to Post Today, Yingluck then appointed Chalerm as Chairman of a 22 member committee to suppress lese majeste. The committee has held its first meeting and MCOT reports a senior police officer (พ.ต.อ.ศิริพงษ์ ติมุลา รองผู้บังคับการปรามปรามการกระทำความผิดเกี่ยวกับอาชญากรรมทางเทคโนโลยี ) as stating that the committee had asked the Criminal Court for an order to block 116 URLs and the authorities had searched 5 places and found information at 2 places, but not at the other three. Professor Somsak of Thammasat University in a comment at New Mandala:

Yesterday, police visited a home of a blogger with a search warrant. His fate is still uncertain, he hasn’t been heard since he posted the news on his fb of the search. I was also learned that a group of police had gone to the residence of the webmaster of a very well-known website, although luckily he wasn’t there. The police apparently said they were not seeking his arrest but just wanted to invited him to talk. There were also unconfirmed report of similar incidents. All these happened as part of Cha-lerm-led efforts to, as he himself declared, shut down 200 LM websites, and he clearly kept his word that yesterday would be the “D-Day”, the start of the crackdown.

Sunai of Human Rights Watch confirms here that one person was detained. Then in a subsequent comment, Somsak notes:

Thaiwat” was released home after spending sometimes at the DSI. I haven’t heard yet whether any formal charge was made against him, or just “questioning”.

BP: The crackdown has started although it seems we need more money to properly crack down. The Bangkok Post:

The government yesterday calmed fears civil rights would be threatened if it adopts a tighter monitoring system to counter anti-monarchy messages on the internet.

The proposed procurement of “a lawful interception (LI) system”, estimated at 400 million baht, was unveiled yesterday during a press briefing by a government panel to crack down on lese majeste on the internet.

The panel was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.

Pol Col Siripong Timula, deputy commander of Technology Crime Suppression Division, assured that the LI system would not be used extensively, but would be allowed by a court order.

“To curb anxiety, I’d like to stress that the system must be applied under the law, which means it must be approved by a court. So there is no need to fear violations of rights,” he said.

Mr Chalerm said Wednesday the procurement of the LI system was proof that the government and his committee were taking the issue seriously.

Here is an excerpt from the Wiki page:

To prevent investigations’ being compromised, LI systems may be designed in a manner that hides the interception from the telecommunications operator concerned. This is a requirement in some jurisdictions.

To ensure systematic procedures for carrying out interception, while also lowering the costs of interception solutions, industry groups and government agencies worldwide have attempted to standardize the technical processes behind lawful interception. One organization, ETSI, has been a major driver in lawful interception standards not only for Europe, but worldwide.

This architecture attempts to define a systematic and extensible means by which network operators and law enforcement agents (LEAs) can interact, especially as networks grow in sophistication and scope of services. Note this architecture applies to not only “traditional” wireline and wireless voice calls, but to IP-based services such as Voice over IP, email, instant messaging, etc. The architecture is now applied worldwide (in some cases with slight variations in terminology), including in the United States in the context of CALEA conformance. Three stages are called for in the architecture:

  1. collection where target-related “call” data and content are extracted from the network
  2. mediation where the data is formatted to conform to specific standards
  3. delivery of the data and content to the law enforcement agency (LEA).

The call data (known as Intercept Related Information or IRI in Europe and Call Data or CD in the US) consists of information about the targeted communications, including destination of a voice call (e.g., called party’s telephone number), source of a call (caller’s phone number), time of the call, duration, etc. Call content is namely the stream of data carrying the call. Included in the architecture is the lawful interception management function, which covers interception session set-up and tear down, scheduling, target identification, etc. Communications between the network operator and LEA are via the Handover Interfaces (designated HI). Communications data and content are typically delivered from the network operator to the LEA in an encrypted format over an IP-based VPN. The interception of traditional voice calls still often relies on the establishment of an ISDN channel that is set up at the time of the interception.

As stated above, the ETSI architecture is equally applicable to IP-based services where IRI (or CD) is dependent on parameters associated with the traffic from a given application to be intercepted. For example, in the case of email IRI would be similar to the header information on an email message (e.g., destination email address, source email address, time email was transmitted) as well as pertinent header information within the IP packets conveying the message (e.g., source IP address of email server originating the email message). Of course, more in-depth information would be obtained by the interception system so as to avoid the usual email address spoofing that often takes place (e.g., spoofing of source address). Voice-over-IP likewise has its own IRI, including data derived from Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) messages that are used to set up and tear down a VOIP call.

BP: So basically a system that collates the information in a wiretap (sounds like a more advanced system than they were using on The Wire.….). This would allow for much more “effective” action (ie make it easier to locate people).

How many people will be detained? So far there are only search warrants. Will they also be arrested?

More in part II