Facebook ‘like’, potentially landing you in prison in Thailand
Clicking “like” on Facebook could potentially land you in prison in Thailand. Last Tuesday Thai Minister of Information and Communication Technology began charging Facebook users for “liking” content that it deems offensive to Thai throne–and could earn you up to 15 years behind bars.
Thailand has very strict lèse-majesté laws that can imprison a person for speaking out or criticizing the throne to any extent it see’s fit. Established in 2007, the Thailand Computer crime Act Internet, intermediaries have also come under fire for said hosted offensive material. This gives authorities the right to block harmful websites and even charge its owners for hosting such content, and even enact harsh penalties to those engaging on political debate subjects.
Last week, a 61 year old retired truck driver, who is battling mouth cancer, was sentenced to 20 years for supposedly sending text messages deemed “offensive”. With such violations of free speech and privacy rights, it brings great concern to how officials can inject themselves into peoples lives. With nearly 300 people having been charged with the lèse-majesté law since 2006–it shows its laws are the most harsh in the world.
“The severity of penalties being meted out for lese majeste offenses in Thailand is shocking,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “The new government seems to be responding to questions about its loyalty to the monarchy by filing countless lese majeste charges.”
Liking and sharing content on Facebook that insults the Thai monarchy is committing a crime, and anyone repeating the details of an alleged offense is illegal. ”The heavy-handed enforcement of lese majeste laws has a devastating impact on freedom of expression in Thailand,” Adams said. “A choke-hold on freedom of expression is being created in the name of protecting the monarchy.”