As part of EngageMedia’s campaign to mainstream digital rights in Thailand, EngageMedia interviews Thitirat Thipsamritkul, a lecturer from Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law, about the state of digital rights in Thailand and why the Thai public should pay attention.
The full interview in Thai, published in The Momentum, is part of EngageMedia’s broader #HumanOnTheLine campaign to educate and empower Thai netizens about their digital rights, and how recent events in the country are leading to digital rights violations.
“The digital space is another space where human life is being lived. Therefore, human rights in the digital space must also be protected”, Thitirat said.
Thitirat also goes in-depth about the difficulties in promoting and protecting digital rights in the country. Below is a translation of her answer to the question: “Looking back, what do you see are the problems related to digital rights in Thailand?”.
When we look at the digital rights problem in Thailand, it stems from the original problem of freedom of expression. The challenges related to digital rights in Thailand do not originate from digital rights itself, but are instead a reflection of the dilemma surrounding human rights. Freedom of expression, or the right to information, already exists in the local legal framework, but initiatives and attempts to better protect those rights are at a superficial level.
For instance, let’s talk about media freedom. In other countries, this issue is very important. The media has the right to not disclose their source and their freedom of expression must not be hampered by any political agenda. In Thailand, however, laws protecting freedom of expression are not strictly implemented.
Amidst an unsettled debate around long-held conservative values and an individual’s rights, the digital space is a disruptor. The coming of digital devices opens up the door of technological opportunity and facilitates the exercise of rights. Technology and digital devices have become the disruptor for a restless society. Individuals who were previously suppressed by the government no longer need to rely on the government and traditional media for their news. They can look for alternative sources.
Moreover, the Thai government has attempted to regulate the internet using the old-fashioned way because they lack an understanding of the role of the digital space. As a result, laws and policies are paradoxical. Adapting old frameworks to the new context has been particularly challenging due to a need to connect laws with physical, tangible territories. But this thinking cannot be adapted to the internet.
Read the full interview in Thai at The Momentum, where Thitirat also talks about the various digital rights initiatives being spearheaded in Thailand (including the #HumanOnTheLine campaign). We encourage you to join us in this campaign by sharing this story using the aforementioned hashtag.