August 16, 2008

Internet 1984

The Thai cyber crime law (officially unofficially the Computer-Related Crime Act of B.E. 2550) comes into effect next week for all "service providers". This law essentially requires all "service providers" to log everything that users do for at least 90 days. It also allows police free access to home computers and online contents of individuals suspected of... well, basically anything they want.

The most absurd thing about this law is that "service provider" is taken in the broadest meaning possible, where anyone giving Internet access to another party is considered a service provider. So if you're a company giving e-mail access to your employees, you have to log all employee activities. If you're a little coffee shop giving free Internet access to customers, you must log their activities. If you're a home user sharing your Internet with someone else living in your home, you have to log their activities too. Where is the privacy?

This law is a huge boon to the firewall and logging devices industry though. Just the past month alone I must've received at least 5,000 calls from vendors selling firewall devices with logging capabilities for many times they are worth, trying to scare small businesses into buying their products. Unfortunately, non-compliance with the law is considered a criminal offense. Makes you think that the people that made up these ridiculous laws probably own more than a number of these firewall dealers.

It sucks that the large IT shops and influencial people are not doing anything to prevent the law from being passed. Instead, they are holding expensive seminars and speaking in public to "teach" people about how important and useful this law is.

Why doesn't the government just unplug the Internet and let's all go back to the stone age?

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