Thailand prohibits “false messages” amid criticism of handling of coronavirus
Thailand: Thailand prohibited the transmission of “false messages” that threaten security on Friday, prompting claims from media organizations that it is attempting to eliminate criticism of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha warned this week that the proliferation of false news had become a serious issue that was generating societal uncertainty and jeopardizing the government’s capacity to handle the situation.
The false information and distorted news that cause panic, misunderstanding, or confusion “affecting state security, violating the rights of others, and order or good morality of the people,” according to an emergency decree that took effect on Friday.
The decree gives the state regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), the authority to order service providers to block internet access to specific IP addresses if it believes they are disseminating false information, as well as to notify the police so that legal action can be taken.
The decree comes after the government has faced public criticism over its handling of the pandemic. Thailand managed to keep the virus last year, but a recent wave of cases, driven by the Delta variant of the virus, has been the deadliest yet.
Due to a slow vaccine roll-out, a large number of people queuing up day after day for COVID tests and inoculations in several locations.
The government already has the authority to enact steps to combat the coronavirus and internet control restrictions. Authorities have been taking legal action against some people, including some celebrities and social media influencers, who have criticized the pandemic response.
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