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Thailand goes legal against Facebook, Twitter over content

By Astha Joshi

Thailand began its first legal action against Facebook and Twitter for overlooking requests to take down content.

The digital minister, Puttipong Punnakanta said, the digital ministry filed legal complaints with cybercrime police after the two social media giants missed 15-day deadlines to comply fully with court-issued takedown orders from August 27.

He further said that there was no action taken against Alphabet’s Google as originally suggested, as it took down all the YouTube videos specified in the order late on Wednesday.

“This is the first time we’re using the Computer Crime Act to take action against platforms for not complying with court orders,” said the minister.

“Unless the companies send their representatives to negotiate, police can bring criminal cases against them. But if they do, and acknowledge the wrongdoing, we can settle on fines.”

However, he did not reveal details of the content or mention what laws it had violated. The complaints were not against their Thai subsidiaries but the U.S. parent companies.

Puttipong further added that the ministry will file more such requests to take down more content, over more than 3000 items, with content ranging from pornography to the criticism of monarchy.

The Computer Crime Act of Thailand outlaws the uploading of information that affects the national security or is false. It is also used to prosecute online criticism of the monarchy.

In current years, authorities have filed court orders with requests to social media platforms to restrain or remove perceived royal insults and other unlawful content like gambling or copyright violations.

Under the Act, neglecting a court order can occur in a fine of up to 200,000 baht ($6,347), then 5,000 baht ($159) per day until the order is recognized.