THE official website of Thailand’s Defence Ministry was hacked on Monday in what is seen as a “symbolic” protest against amendments approved last week to the controversial Computer Crime Act (CCA).
According to Bangkok Post, defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanich played down the attack, saying it did not cause much damage, although he urged those responsible to stop what they were doing as it could affect other agencies and the country as a whole.
The English daily said Kongcheep did not offer further details on the hack. He argued, however, that it was pointless to attack the government’s website due to a lack of understanding of the law revisions.
Hacking, he added, was not the right way to handle the matter, especially as the government was “well-prepared” to deal with such an attack.
“All armed forces are well-prepared to cope with this problem. The attempts only served to make us more vigilant.
“As for a report that foreign hackers have also joined the attacks, I would like to remind them that doing so is unlawful. Attacks on the financial, banking, transport and other systems will cause damage to all Thais,” he was quoted saying.
The daily’s report said its attempt at 2.30pm to access the ministry’s site failed, returning an error message that saying: “The following page has become unresponsive”. Eight minutes later, the site reportedly came back online, it said.
At last check Tuesday morning, however, Asian Correspondent was unable to access the site as well, with only a “404 Not Found” error message showing. It is not immediately known if this is due to the hack.
Last Friday, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) unanimously approved amendments to the CCA, despite objections from rights groups in Thailand and Internet users.
According to critics, the amendments were too sweeping in scope, overly-ambiguous and open for abuses by the military junta government to curtail political dissent.
Thailand is already known for its strict lese-majeste laws – described as the world’s toughest – which are used to protect the exalted royal family from insult or threat. The military government is also seen as sensitive to criticism, particularly of its seizure of power in 2014. The fear is that the rebottled CCA will be wielded as a tool to punish such criticism and that with it goes the last vestiges of Internet freedom in the kingdom.
After the Bill’s passing, a brief protest was held Sunday against the revised law, despite earlier warnings by the government against the staging of such gatherings.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has also disagreed with claims that the law would curtail Internet freedom, saying the amendments were necessary.
Among other contentious tweaks, the Bill proposes a maximum five-year jail term and a maximum THB100,000 (US$2,700) fine or both for the person who enters false data into a computer system that could cause damage to the public, create panic, or cause harm to public infrastructure, national security, public security or economic security.
Those who input any kind of computer data that is deemed as obscene, offensive to the kingdom, or that is terrorism-related will also be tried under the same section, while any person who decides to forward the data despite knowing of its potential damage will be subject to the same penalties.
The law also allows the authorities to recommend the blocking of content deemed to be in breach of public order and morals, even if such content does not violate any law.
Critics say the ambiguity of the language used in the amendments suggests that the authorities would be given the freedom to dictate what does or does not constitute an offence under the law.