Thailand’s digital minister threatens Facebook with legal action over restriction requests

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

Thailand’s digital minister has threatened legal action against Facebook and accused the social media giant of not complying with government requests to restrict content deemed illegal, including perceived insults to the country’s monarchy.

The latest threat came after Facebook’s auto-translation tool mistranslated a message in a Thai broadcaster’s post live-streaming King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s birthday ceremony last week.

Facebook has apologised and temporarily disabled English-to-Thai auto-translation.

The incident sparked a flurry of complaints by Puttipong Punnakanta, Thailand’s Minister of Digital Economy and Society, that Facebook was not responding fast enough to the Thai government’s requests to restrict content.

He also vowed stronger action against the company. He did not elaborate.

Thailand has a tough law prohibiting insults against the monarchy. In recent years, authorities have filed court orders along with requests to social media platforms to restrict or remove perceived royal insults and other illegal content, including national security threats and copyright violations.

“When we use Thai laws to order removals or restrictions of content and don’t receive cooperation in some cases, we might need to use Section 27 of the Computer Crime Act which makes it a crime to not follow court orders,” Puttipong said on Sunday.

He was referring to an article of the cybercrime law that says failure to observe a court order can result in a fine of up to 200,000 baht ($6,408) and an additional 5,000 baht ($160) per day until the order is observed.

Puttipong said, however, that he would not go as far as to ban Facebook because many Thai businesses relied on it to drive sales.

Facebook did not directly comment on the minister’s threat when contacted on Monday. A spokeswoman repeated an apology over the royal birthday mistranslation.

Facebook has said it processes requests from the Thai government the same as any other government. After reviewing requests, Facebook may block the content from being seen by users in that country if locally unlawful.

Reuters 

 

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.