The Thai Computer Crimes Act amendment has been passed unanimously and will be entered into law within 80 days.
Changes to the law governing cyber-crimes will likely increase censorship, according to the Human Rights Watch (HRW). The law will allow the government to intercept private communications and censor websites without a court order.
Brad Adams, Asia director for the Human Rights Watch, said, “The adoption of the Computer-Related Crime Act drastically tightens the chokehold on online expression in Thailand.”
“Hundreds of activists have been prosecuted since the May 2014 coup for exercising their freedom of expression online, and these latest amendments will make it even easier for the junta to punish its critics.”
Hacktivists have reportedly targeted Thai government websites to protest against the amended Act. A Facebook group called for people to deny access to government sites by repeatedly reloading them, a simple version of a DDoS attack. The attacks accomplished little according to Thailand's defence ministry.
In a statement issued 16 December, Shawn Crispin, Committee to Protect Journalist's (CPJ) senior Southeast Asia representative said, “Thailand's cyber-crime law was already a grave threat to journalists who work online. These vague and overbroad amendments will only accentuate the danger.”
“Thailand's military government consistently conflates commentary with criminal activity, and these amendments will give officials even wider powers to crush dissent. These amendments should be scrapped, and any future changes to the law should prioritise explicit guarantees of press freedom and freedom of expression.”
“We are concerned by amendments to Thai legislation that could threaten online freedoms, and call on the government to ensure the country's cyber laws comply to international human rights standards,” said the UN Office of Human Rights in a statement.Kongcheep Tantrawanich, a defence ministry spokesman warned against further attacks saying that “destroying financial systems, banks, transportation systems, and airports, can cause damage toward the population of an entire country.”