The ongoing protests for democracy in Thailand – and attempts to quell dissent – mean that Thai internet users continue to face threats to their human and digital rights. But such threats are not limited to those participating in the protests. The internet is already being used as a tool to violate the basic human rights of people, which extend to the online space. The right to privacy is violated by surveillance by authorities or trolling by state or non-state actors. Freedom of speech, especially the right to express dissent, is threatened by censorship or draconian laws.
In light of these threats, EngageMedia asks six Thai women from diverse backgrounds about how to deal with digital rights violations and, more importantly, how we can all contribute to make the Thai internet a better, freer, and more secure place.
The interviews were first published in the Thai news outlet The 101 World. We republish here English translations of select quotes from the six interviewees.
This article is part of EngageMedia’s broader #HumanOnTheLine campaign that aims to educate and empower Thai netizens about their digital rights and how recent events in the country are leading to digital rights violations.
How can we advance digital rights in Thailand?
Thitirat Thipsamritkul: Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University
“Digital is the new context for human life. We live under new conditions of life that are created by digital tools. We could not resist that our life also goes on in the digital world and our rights and freedom should be respected in the digital space as well. Therefore, it’s the state’s obligation to guarantee the rights of citizens in this digital space.”
Wasinee Pabuprapap: Reporter from workpointTODAY
“I do aim to deliver information to different groups in order to make them have some common facts. If we prohibit a group from media space, the only fact that they could seek for is the fact under an agenda”.
Chonticha Jangrew: Women and Human Rights Defender, and Co-founder of Democratic Restoration Group
“In order to create a safe space, the government must listen to the people’s voices. As a result, we will have sustainable ways to solve problems. We should change our mindset from thinking that different opinions are harmful for national security, to being aware that different opinions could be the way out of a crisis. If the government oppresses the expression both offline and online, both anonymous and publicly, there is always the risk”.
Anchana Heemina: Women and Human Rights Defender from the Deep South, and Founder of Duay Jai Group
“In the Deep South of Thailand, the government must learn to use technology as a tool to create more positive connections with the people on the ground, not using technology to oppress people”.
Veeraporn Nitiprapa: SEA Write Award Recipient
“When technology creates rapid change, the question is how people in different generations adjust to the change. We must learn from our experience, accept the risks and flaws, and learn and grow with it”.
“In the digital world, there is no free lunch. There are many things beyond our control, such as algorithms, deep fake, and echo chambers. The question is how to have literacy over the tools that we are using”.
Among the goals of the #HumanOnTheLine campaign is to make Thai netizens more aware and informed of how available and emerging technologies can impact these rights, for better or for worse. Through this campaign, EngageMedia wants to create more spaces for Thai netizens to discuss these problems and advocate for solutions on how to protect digital rights.
EngageMedia invites everyone to join our campaign by sharing your thoughts about digital rights in Thailand and how we can better protect the Thai internet from digital rights violations. Use the hashtag #HumanOnTheLine.