Following a Wednesday (10 November) Constitutional Court ruling against public discussion of monarchy reform, the Court’s website was apparently hacked on Thursday (11 November) by an unidentified party, who renamed it “Kangaroo Court” and modified site content.
The Constitutional Court website after it was hacked
Around 13.00 on Thursday (11 November), the Court homepage had been renamed “kangaroo court”, a derogatory term for a court that ignores accepted standards of law and justice. Site content had also been replaced by a YouTube video of the song “Guillotine” performed by the American hip-hop band Death Grips.
The video only appeared when the website was accessed directly at https://www.constitutionalcourt.or.th/. The normal homepage was retrieved when accessing the site via a Google search.
The site went down at around 14.00 on Friday (12 November). As of 15.30 on Saturday (13 November), it is still offline.
According to Matichon Online, Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said that access to the site has been temporary suspended and might be difficult to restore, even though site data had not been tampered with.
Chaiwut said that the Court outsourced its website maintenance to a private company, which may not have set up adequate security measures, allowing outsiders to obtain the site username and password. He added that they were still investigating whether the system was hacked or if the username and password were leaked by the server administrator.
Chaiwut said that the authorities know who is behind the incident, and that it was planned before the Court issued its ruling. He added that while it might take some time, DES will collaborate with the National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA) and the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) to catch the hackers.
He also told Matichon that several government agency websites have been attacked in the past, and noted that many agencies do not have enough budget to set up proper security measures. He said that it might be necessary to allocate more budget for security systems and proposed that money from the Digital Economy and Society Development Fund be utilised.
The incident followed a Constitutional Court ruling on Wednesday (10 Nov) that speeches made by protest leaders Anon Nampa, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Panupong Jadnok, as well as subsequent call for monarchy reform, were an intentional abuse of constitutional rights and liberties in an attempt to overthrow the “democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”
The ruling sparked protests from activists and members of the public. Immediately after it was read, reams of paper bearing the messages “Reform the judiciary,” “Reform is not rebellion,” and “Abolishing Section 112 is the first step to monarchy reform” were scattered on the steps of the court building. Activists from the Thalufah group also burned a model of the Democracy Monument to show their opposition to the ruling.
On Thursday evening (11 November), the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) Facebook page published pictures of activists holding up protest messages - “I am not a rebel,” “An absolute monarchy with the illusion of a democracy,” “Reform does not equal overthrow,” and “Repeal 112” - at the Victory Monument, on the BTS Sky Train, in a public bus and at other locations around central Bangkok.
Four protesters also attached “Reform does not equal overthrow” and a “Repeal 112” signs to the shop door of Sirivannavari Siam Paragon – the flagship outlet of a fashion brand owned by the King’s youngest daughter, Princess Sirivannavari. They were arrested, fined 2000 baht for violating the Cleanliness Act, and released.
The Democracy Restoration Group, along with a number of other activist groups including UFTD and Thalufah, have called for a protest march on Sunday afternoon (14 November) from Democracy Monument to Sanam Luang in order to demonstrate opposition to the ruling.