Thai Media Associations Don’t Like New Fake News Law and Think It Is A Violation of Freedom Of Speech

It has been reported that the Thai government is cracking down on fake news. An order has been published in the Royal Gazette banning the distribution of false information that could lead to fear or misunderstanding. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says the measure is intended to ensure the spread of false content online does not undermine the government’s response to the pandemic. Thai media associations say the ban on fake news infringes upon freedom of expression.
According to the Thai government’s news bureau, according to the order, published in the Royal Gazette yesterday and issued in compliance with the Emergency Decree, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission is obligated to direct internet services to check IP addresses and immediately suspend services. Afterwards, the providers must report details to the commission, which will then file complaints with the police. A provider’s operating license will be revoked if it fails to follow the rules.
Six leading Thai professional media associations called on the government to abolish the provision of the Emergency Decree that infringes upon freedom of expression in a joint statement.
According to the statement, the media associations reached the following conclusions:

  1. The Prime Minister’s insistence on enforcing these new measures, along with the government’s recent attempts to intimidate and take legal action against members of the public who criticize the administration during COVID-19, clearly show an intent to suppress freedom of expression.
  2. The government’s insistence that the new measures are needed to combat fake news underlines the administration’s failure to communicate with the public.

Occasionally, a few media organizations did report inaccurate news, but their actions were not the result of an intentional plot to spread falsehoods or damage society, as alleged by the government and its information officers. Media industry errors can sometimes occur, but they can be corrected by presenting accurate information. A journalist who makes such an error already pays a high price in terms of credibility.

  1. The media and news agencies should stand together against the government’s new measures. In addition, we urge the media establishment to ensure that their news coverage is accurate and compliant with the highest journalistic standards – so as to deny the government any excuse to interfere with media operations, which will, in turn, affect the public’s right to information.

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