Legal representatives from Thailand’s largest communications companies have openly criticized a Thai law that would hold service providers responsible for computer-related crimes.

Thai computer misuse law bans any person from entering false information into a computer system. However, not only does the latest version of this law hold service providers equally responsible for illegal posts, but it also shifts the burden of proof to the ISPs – requiring them to prove their innocence in court rather than having the prosecution prove their guilt.

Computer crimes in Thailand include entering false data into a computer system that could negatively affect a third party or the public. This could include anything from actual malicious activities, such as hacking or phishing scams, to simply posting an opinion on social media or in the comments section of a website.

Because the bar for offences is set so low, the law has been criticized as a tool for silencing dissent rather than a means of protecting citizens from scams and cyber crimes.

Speaking at an Online Life seminar, Akarawit Jongsawasdiworakul, a legal representative from the second-largest mobile company in Thailand, said that giving service providers equal responsibility for subscriber actions means that companies must put their resources into monitoring subscriber actions rather than into improving services.

Suporn Hornchaiya, a representative from the Thai communications conglomerate TrueCorporation, added that the definition of ‘service provider’ is so vague that anyone with an unsecured WiFi hotspot would be subjected to the full force of the law.

The Thai government can still require that a service provider remove an offending post, but where the previous computer governance law required a court order, the new version needs only a request from an ‘official in charge’, removing judicial oversight from the process.

Article 15 of the Computer Crime Act says that any service provider intentionally supporting or consenting to an offence within a computer system under their control shall be subject to the same penalty as that imposed on a person committing an offence.

Penalties applied to offenders, and under Article 15 to service providers as well, include up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 baht.