Thai police unbowed in plan to keep LINE app under surveillance
The Nation/Asia News NetworkDespite continued public criticism and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's remark that the Thai government fully respected people's rights, the police commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) Wednesday insisted he would press on with the idea of checking people's use of the globally popular LINE chat application.
August 16, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
However, Police Maj Gen Pisit Paoin said his division would only check for information on people suspected of committing a subversive act or crime online, and not on all LINE users' conversations.
Pisit said representatives from all countries at a meeting of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) believed that illegal activity on websites and smartphone applications was likely to increase, and that all countries would need to plan measures to prevent such crime.
The TCSD has a duty to protect the country and bring technological crime under control, he said. Therefore, it should lay down measures to protect against future threats, he insisted.
There are currently 20 million Thai Facebook users, while the LINE application has some 15 million Thai users. It is, therefore, likely that some of these people will use these programs to stir up trouble and engage in crime, he said.
Pisit said his division would not eavesdrop on social-media users without authorisation, as it would need the consent of mobile operators following a court order.
He gave an assurance that he would only investigate people having committed a crime and would examine the LINE database in Japan, where the application's server is housed, to check whether any such persons have a LINE user account.
The division will not check all LINE conversations by Thai users, he stressed.
Pisit last week said the police planned to study the conversations and comments posted on the popular social-media application to see whether they violated the law or threatened national security.
The agency had asked LINE Corp. in Japan to cooperate, he said, but LINE's operator on Tuesday said it had not received any contact from the Thai police.
National police chief Police General Adul Saengsingkaew yesterday said the police would not violate the rights of LINE users, but would check only those people who violate the law or are threats to national security. “Police will not look into people's personal lives. We will look into only issues threatening national security, such as the spreading of rumors. We won't check on everybody, but only those people engaging in such behavior. We will certainly follow the law, but we have to see first which laws are related to this,” he said.
Meanwhile, social-media users continue to attack Pisit's idea.
Acharawadee Buaklee yesterday posted that Google Map Camera Car was more threatening to national security than LINE users.
This was in reaction to the news that villagers in Tambon Sa-eab, in Phrae province, had intercepted the driver of a Google Map Camera vehicle that gone around taking pictures of the area to be part of Google Maps' Street View.
The villagers later apologized to the driver.