Bill to form cyber army unit to maintain national security approved

The Defence Ministry has given a green light to the plan to establish an ‘Army Cyber Centre’ to boost the military’s online defence capacity and deal with online threats against national security.  

Maj Gen Kongcheep Tantrawanich, spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence, announced on Monday, 22 August 2016, that the ministry has approved a draft bill called ‘2017-2021 Cyber for National Defence’, the BBC Thai reported.

Under the bill, the establishment of the Army Cyber Center will start in the fiscal year of 2017. The center’s main function is to boost the cyber defence mechanisms of all security forces in the country to handle any cyber threats, which could affect the stability and security of the nation in the digital era.

In October last year, the top military chiefs met at the Military Headquarters in Bangkok to announce the establishment of the Army Cyber Centre.

According to the documents of the meeting organised by the Subcommittee of Information and Communication Technology of the Army, one of the important operations of the Centre is to keep track of information on media and social media and to sort them out systematically.

On a presentation slide used in the meeting titled ‘monitoring, examining, and warning’, pictures of Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an embattled former lecturer of Thammasat University now in self-imposed exile in France after being charged under the lèse majesté law, were used as examples of online sources that should be monitored.

Images of Jatuporn Prompan, a key leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the main red shirt faction, and Panthongtae Shinawatra, the son of former controversial PM Thaksin Shinawatra, also appeared on the slides.

The document of 231 pages in total, some of which were leaked, also provides details about how to report pages which provide ‘cautious’ online information most effectively.

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