First legal action against Facebook, Twitter taken by Thailand over content
October 23, 2020

First legal action against Facebook, Twitter taken by Thailand over content

BANGKOK (THAILAND) – Thailand began legal action on Thursday against Facebook and Twitter for neglecting requests to pull down content. This was its first such step against major internet firms.

The digital minister, Puttipong Punnakanta, said the digital ministry had filed legal complaints after the two social media companies failed to meet the 15-day deadlines to adhere to court-issued takedown orders from August 27.

As Alphabet’s Google took down all the YouTube videos specified in the order late on Wednesday, no action was taken, he said.

“This is the first time we’re using the Computer Crime Act to take action against platforms for not complying with court orders,” Puttipong told reporters.

“Unless the companies send their representatives to negotiate, police can bring criminal cases against them. But if they do, and acknowledge the wrongdoing, we can settle on fines.”

Details about the content or what laws were violated are not disclosed yet. The complaints were levelled against only the US parent companies and not their Thai subsidiaries, he said.

Puttipong said more such takedown requests will be filed to Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and they would be asked to remove more than 3,000 items. These items would range from pornography to criticism of the monarchy.

Twitter refused to comment, while Facebook and Google were not available for requests to comment.

Thailand has a tough lese majeste law, preventing any insults on the monarchy. The Computer Crime Act, which makes the uploading of false information or one that affects national security illegal, has been made use of to take action against online criticism of the royal family.

Under the Act, the person ignoring a court order can be fined up to 200,000 baht ($6,347), then 5,000 baht ($159) per day until the order is observed.

Separate cybercrime complaints were filed against five people who it said questioned the monarchy on Facebook and Twitter when a major anti-government demonstration was happening at the weekend, Puttipong said.

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