DES: Facebook won’t take legal action

DES: Facebook won’t take legal action

Minister of Digital Economy and Society Buddhipongse Punnakanta speaking at a press conference on Wednesday about illicit content of Facebook. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES) Buddhipongse Punnakanta on Wednesday said he does not believe Facebook will take legal action against the government and the DES Ministry in relation to past legal requests since the platform has cooperated well with previous requests.

Mr Buddhipongse was speaking at a press conference at the DES Ministry to counter Facebook’s legal threat to sue the government for blocking access to accounts deemed defamatory to the monarchy.

The minister referred to the Royalist Marketplace page on Facebook operated by Pavin Chachavalpongpun that contains sensitive posts about the monarchy. Mr Pavin is now working as a university lecturer in Japan and is wanted for lese majeste charges.

“As Facebook has blocked access to illicit content, this means the company understands and respects Thai laws,” Mr Buddhipongse said. “We insist that the move is in line with the law enforcement and Thai sovereignty”.

He stressed the government has not abused its powers and that all platforms must comply with Thai law.

“Facebook creates benefits for Thai people who use it in proper ways, such as e-commerce,” he said.

He insisted the government does not discriminate against particular pages on platforms but focuses merely on dealing with inappropriate content.

As for the Royalist Marketplace, a new page could be set up but if illicit content is found, the ministry will have to take legal action against it in line with the Computer Crime Act, he said.

He said the government and the DES ministry have noticed bullying taking place on social media platforms and any person affected, regardless of their political background, can file complaints with the ministry or the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD).

Mr Buddhipongse said the government does not want to see bullying or witch-hunting on social media platforms, which could have a harmful effect on people’s daily lives.

Mr Buddhipongse said the DES ministry is seeking cooperation from social media platforms to remove another 1,024 URLs deemed inappropriate, in line with the court’s orders.

Of them, 661 URLs are on Facebook, 289 on YouTube, 69 on Twitter and the rest on other platforms.

The removal needs to be undertaken within 15 days, starting from today. The ministry is also looking into complaints against 700 URLs before deciding whether to seek court orders to take them down.

He said he and his team will contact Facebook Singapore for talks after Facebook has already removed 1,129 URLs upon request by the ministry.

Among them was the Royalist Marketplace page on Facebook, which had its access blocked within Thailand on Monday. The page had one million members discussing the country’s King.

Facebook on Tuesday indicated requests by the government to block access to accounts breach international human rights law and affect free speech.