Law in the Internet Society


-- By BhalarpVallayapet - 10 Dec 2015


2016 Presidential Election is approaching. The same situation should also have taken place in Thailand, but it is just a dream of Thai people that never know when will become true. After the Royal Thai Armed Forces launched a coup d'état on May 22, 2014, the Constitution of Thailand was repealed and never replaced. Although Thailand declares itself as a democratic country, I am not quite sure we are still one. Our constitution is gone, and nothing is left to protect our rights.

Under John Locke's theory of natural rights, “all men in the state of nature are free and equal, and at liberty to do as they wish … within the bounds of the law of nature.” As these rights are natural, they should be available to every single person in the state, regardless of the existence of constitution recognizing such rights. One of the most important rights applicable under John Locke’s theory is the right and freedom to access to the information available on the internet.


The most useful function of the internet is that it allows people throughout the world to share and access information regardless of where they are. It is the endless world of freedom. Although sometimes internet freedom has to be limited due to public interest and good moral, it is acceptable so long as the heart of freedom is not violated.

Prior to the coup, the Internet censorship in Thailand concentrated mainly on blocking pornography. However, after the coup, the Internet censorship has gradually increase and began to shift the concentration to lèse majesté, political issues, and national security. Social media like Facebook, YouTube? , and Twitter, have been blocked periodically if there are offensive comments against the Thai government. In addition to blocking websites, the military government also tried to limit the online information sharing, by requesting these social media to delete their contents. Google and Yahoo!, the popular search engines were also approached for keyword search blocking. As the censorship increases, the internet freedom of Thai people sadly decreases.

In 2013, a US research group called Freedom House rated Thailand as “partly free” country for Internet freedom. Surprisingly, after the coup in 2014, Thailand’s rating immensely declined to be “not free” country, ranking it 52 out of 65 countries, due to substantial censorship.


Nightmare of Thai people suddenly arrived when the country’s military government introduced a new tool to Thai people, the “Single Gateway” Internet, in September 2015, having the Great Firewall of China as a model. Gateways allow various communication systems to be connected together. If the Single Gateway is set up, the government will be able to thoroughly monitor and control all online information that flows into and out of Thailand. The plan is to block access to inappropriate sites and to control the speeches of the Thais in order to stabilize the political situation.


  • Violation of Privacy Rights and Freedom - Thai people’s rights of privacy and freedom has been increasingly violated after the coup. Within just one month after seizing the power, over 500 individuals have been detained, mainly due to exercising freedom of speech in the way that disfavors the junta. With strict censorship, people are no longer allowed to express their thoughts if it is against the government. Online anonymity of Thai citizen is now under serious threat. If worse comes to worst, every Thai citizen could be required under the plan to authenticate their identity using a smart ID card before each internet log-on.

  • High Risk of System Crashing – As there is only a “single” gateway, if it crashes, the whole internet system of the country will be down until the gateway is fixed, which would lead to innumerable economic loss.

  • Economic Loss - Due to its golden location in the heart of Asian market, Thailand aims to be a digital hub for tech startups and e-commerce for ASEAN. However, the plan would remain a dream if the Single Gateway is implemented, as the risk is too high for the investors.

  • Low Speed & High Costs – If there is only one internet gateway, the average internet speed in the country would be slower. In addition, the costs of establishing the system is estimated to be as high as at least USD 14 million. No taxpayer would be happy.


Although majority of Thai people totally oppose the Single Gateway, sadly, those who tried to fight were arrested by the military. In October 2015, thousands of computer users decided to do the symbolic cyber-attack by visiting the targeted government websites at the same time and continually refreshing the page, causing at least seven government websites to crash. In response to the attack, Thai police merely declared that the action could lead to criminal liability under the Computer Crime Act.

If this problem cannot be solved within the national territory, it is time to reach out for people power outside the jurisdiction. Anyone who lives in the country with free internet could offer two options to people in Thailand: (i) offering VPN service over port 443 and provides network proxying over SSL; or (ii) setting up a computer that will provide an SSH proxy to anyone with a key it recognizes. In either case, people in Thailand will be able to access uncensored internet as if they were outside Thailand. Although these offshore addresses may eventually be blocked, if the people power is large enough, they will still be able to offer an access to the uncensored internet to the people in Thailand.

While there are a few ways to defeat the Single Gateway, we, the Thai people, are still wishing to gain back our democratic country –- with constitution that truly protects our privacy rights and freedom –- and we look forward to the country’s election once again.

This is an opinion piece, of course, and the opinion is easy to understand. What is less easy to understand is why you would take your opinion piece in the direction of giving pragmatic arguments about network stability alongside the simple general proposition that this is suppression of fundamental human rights by tyranny. Is it not simple to say "The army has imposed complete control over the Internet, which violates the fundamental human rights of all Thai people"? Then you can deal with the remaining questions, which are primarily technical. You conclude that there are no political avenues until there are elections and (perhaps) a non-tyrannical government. We need not anticipate that there are legal measures to take, as there is no independent rule of law. That's why the remainder of the essay is technical. Of course it is easy for anyone in Thailand who has a technically-competent friend anywhere else in the actually freer world to have a free Internet. Whatever the Single Portal blocks, it cannot block every computer that could offer VPN service over port 443 (the HTTPS port) without turning off the web. So take someone living in NYC, called for convenience BV. BV has a cheap computer attached to the Net (called, for convenience, a FreedomBox) which answers port 443 and provides network proxying over SSL. Or BV sets up any computer (again, call it a FreedomBox) that will provide an SSH proxy to anyone with a key it recognizes (I like this better myself). In either case anyone in Thailand who knows BV can use that computer of BV's to have a completely uncensored Internet in Thailand. The Thai Single Portal may eventually block BV's address, but BV is just a person with a cheap computer and cheap network connection, and there are lots of him and they can all change addresses easily. This is called people power, it works in the Net, it is fueled by knowledge you could have and have so far turned down the chance to learn.

In other words, you could write 1,000 words about how to defeat the Single Portal completely, and be completely right, if you did some learning. Or you can write this piece that wrongly says there's nothing people can do and be wrong, turning down the chance to learn. I am puzzled why you made the second choice.

I have revised the last part of the essay to reflect our discussion, so that now it tells both stories; what is happening in Thailand and how to defeat the Single Gateway.


Webs Webs

r3 - 01 Feb 2016 - 00:24:53 - BhalarpVallayapet
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