Thailand is set to head to the polls in May 2023, and as the general election approaches, it’s more important than ever for political parties and candidates to prioritise the protection of digital rights. Recent reports by EngageMedia and the Asia Centre have highlighted the government’s increasing crackdown on political dissent, including online censorship and criminalisation of the consumption and sharing of critical content. The government is using the guise of national security and public morality to justify these actions, but in reality, it is a form of digital authoritarianism.
On February 24, 2023, EngageMedia, Asia Centre, and Chiang Mai University’s School of Public Policy will release a report titled “4-point Digital Rights Agenda for Political Parties.” The report highlights four key digital rights issues that merit immediate action and attention from government officials and calls on political parties and candidates of members of parliament to commit themselves to protecting digital rights in Thailand and to uphold Thailand’s obligations under international human rights treaties.
Challenges to digital rights in Thailand
Human and digital rights advocates in Thailand currently face various threats and challenges. Under the controversial Computer Crime Act, the government has limited access to information and pressured service providers to remove information deemed offensive to public officials. The use of sophisticated surveillance technology to monitor human rights activists and opposition members and the interception of their communications has also risen. Moreover, the government’s fact-checking institution has largely failed to fact-check disinformation campaigns directed at human rights activists or critics, instead parroting pro-government narratives and endorsing government policies.
As Thailand moves towards the election, it is crucial for political parties and candidates to recognise the importance of digital rights. EngageMedia and partner organisations urge members of the parliament and political candidates to commit themselves to the protection of digital rights in Thailand, including those in the following 4-point agenda.
Read the full report in English:
Read the full report in Thai: