Thailand does suffer from internet censorship, although the degree to which the censorship affects people is less than some other Asian countries. Thailand’s internet blocks focus mainly on pornography and the adult industry, although information about the King and the military are also often censored in the country.
In an effort to further their internet policing efforts, Thailand’s government has required eateries to collect and log everything that is transmitted over their WiFi. Sometimes, free WiFi comes at a price.
The Official Order and the Computer Crimes Act
Thai ministers passed the Computer Crimes Act, an effort they claim will help dissuade people from using the internet to commit crimes. The act requires that all Thai internet service providers hold usage records for 90 days. If the government suspects someone of a crime, they have a 90 day window to view their internet history.
The Thai Minister of Digital Economy, Puttipong Punnakan, announced at a news conference that the Computer Crimes act would be extended to cover restaurants, cafes, and similar places where users may have access to free WiFi. The announcement was as follows:
“Shops and cafes that offer WiFi services must collect internet traffic information for 90 days, so in case there is anything, officials may need to request for the information under Article 26 of the Computer Crimes Act”
Establishments that do not comply with the 90 day logs will face legal repercussions, although it is unclear at this point what those repercussions may be.
Perhaps the most troubling part of this scenario is that what is considered a crime in Thailand would ordinarily be considered just idle chatter in countries with higher scores on the freedom index. Recently, a Thai pro-democracy activist posted unfavorable comments about the monarchy and was promptly arrested. This could mean that discussing the monarchy or the ministries of Thailand over public WiFi might be enough to have restaurant customers thrown behind bars.
Use a VPN in Thailand
In a country where wording a political comment a little too sternly can lead to jail time, it’s imperative to use a VPN. VPNs will keep your browsing history (and thus the origins of your posts or comments not made with your real name or photo) free from the prying eyes of the government. You can use a VPN over free WiFi if you’re travelling – in fact, there are plenty of excellent pre-flashed VPN routers that are perfectly compact and easily portable for people who may be visiting Thailand.
If you live in Thailand or plan to stay there long term, you’ll undoubtedly need access to a reputable, safe, and fast stealth VPN to help you maintain your privacy without sacrificing your desire for free speech. TorGuard is the perfect solution for you.