Thai Law Trouble Possible For Those Posting ‘false’ Messages In Social Media
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People who post what are deemed to be ‘false’ messages on social media in a way that will create public confusion or panic could soon find themselves in trouble with Thai law authorities.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is mulling legal actions against netizens who post such false messages, according to its spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree.

At least one law firm in Thailand suggests it is, in the present situation, better not to post messages or other comments in online discussions and/or on social media outlets which might be seen as seeking to incite public confusion, panic or unrest. At the same time the advice from this Thai law firm includes a definite ‘no’ to the posting of any message or comment that blatantly or in no uncertain terms aims to incite confusion, panic or unrest.

There are many a Thai and international law firm in Thailand which can offer valuable and well-founded advice in such a situation, in addition to the usual range of Thai law, legal, accounting, immigration and auditing services available. Some specialize in assisting foreigners to obtain a Thai visa and/or Thailand work permit, others in tax consulting and filing of personal income tax and others in starting a business in Thailand.

Foreigners employed in Thailand are required to file a personal income tax return each year, the same as Thais are required to. The filing of income taxes is not the most popular exercise to start with and for expatriates working abroad in foreign countries, it is probably less so. And hence - while they are of course free to handle this process themselves - many opt to use a Thai law firm for this.

A similar warning came from the military junta just days after the 22 May 2014 coup, in which members of social networks were told they must stop using social media to incite unrest.

In the days leading up to the coup also, when Thailand was under Martial Law, announcements were made requesting cooperation from social media to spread news of all events straightforwardly and without bias, which might otherwise cause misunderstandings and enlarge the conflict.

At the time, a leading Thailand newspaper mentioned in a story on the announcements that, according to the Martial Law in effect, entrepreneurs or participants in social networks were prohibited from broadcasting to incite, or provoke violence, including resistance to the junta’s performance of duties and that commentators who violated the regulation would be suspended and prosecuted without further notice.

Along with the warning this August 2015 from the NCPO regarding ‘false’ messages in social media, its spokesman Colonel Winthai also asked the public to report immediately to police or military officers if they came across any suspicious objects or anything that may pose a public danger.

Speaking in a nationwide TV broadcast following the 17 August 2015 bombing at Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong intersection and a second bombing incident at Sathorn pier the following day, the spokesman said security agencies concurred the attacks were intended to affect Thailand’s economy and tourism business and the image of the country.

Toward the end of August, Thailand welcomed its 20 millionth visitor for the year 2015 so far. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is aiming for a 13 per cent rise in arrivals for 2015, to over 28 million, and the tourism ministry is projecting total earnings from tourism - international and domestic - in 2015 to reach THB 2.2 trillion.


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