When you think of traveling the world, you probably think of a relaxing time near the beaches of the Caribbean, in the middle of Seoul, or out in the middle of nowhere in the Sahara. Point is, you don’t think of the troubles that may arise during your trip.
I had a friend who traveled to Thailand, a country famous for its historical and cultural significance as well as its natural resources. He had a great time when he went last year, though it wasn’t until the end of his trip when he realized the growing issue of cybersecurity in Thailand.
The Growing Cybersecurity Issues in Thailand
The country of Thailand is no stranger to controversy. The current government came into power after a military coup in 2014, and the laws they’ve passed since taking control have been…less than adequate.
It all started with a law banning any form of criticism towards the monarchy; anyone who criticizes the monarchy risks earning jail time. Saying so much as a joke meant that you could be thrown in prison for months.
Early last year, the government decided to take things a bit further, passing a vaguely-worded bill that allows the government to track and log any data they see worth tracking and logging. This means they can log your browser history or website data just because they feel like it.
Of course, the bill doesn’t explicitly state like that, but the vague wording allows the government to get away with virtually anything. We don’t know the limits of the bill, and they probably don’t know either.
This bill not only puts citizens at risk of their privacy being breached but tourists as well. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if tourists got the brunt of it, considering the government may want as much data they can get on tourists.
Passing the bill allows the government to take cybercrime more seriously and gives them the tools to hunt down cybercriminals, but at what cost? If anything, the new cybersecurity bill seems like Thailand’s version of the Patriot Act.
If you’re not convinced of my concerns over the bill, then take a look at what Jeff Paine, managing director of Asia Internet Coalition, has to say about it:
“Protecting online security is a top priority; however, the Law’s ambiguously defined scope, vague language and lack of safeguards raises serious privacy concerns for both individuals and businesses, especially provisions that allow overreaching authority to search and seize data and electronic equipment without proper legal oversight. This would give the regime sweeping powers to monitor online traffic in the name of an emergency or as a preventive measure, potentially compromising private and corporate data,”
Protecting Yourself From The Bill
Fortunately, falling victim to the new cybersecurity bill is not a prerequisite for visiting Thailand. If you’ve dreamt of visiting the country, don’t put it on hold. However, I do implore you to take some things into consideration before you travel there.
For one, you should download a VPN to protect yourself. A VPN encrypts your data and hides it from any third-party trying to view it, whether they be the government or your internet service provider. I almost find it necessary to use one, especially if the country you’re in doesn’t value user privacy.
Other than that, you just need to be careful about what you view and do online while in Thailand. Try not to criticize the monarchy or login to view any sensitive information—who knows what they’d do.
I plan on visiting Thailand one day, and even the new cybersecurity law won’t stop me. However, it will force me to take a few precautions before visiting.
Many countries are enforcing strict Internet laws that put citizens at a disadvantage. While not ideal, you can combat these changes with a security program or two. After that, you’re all set to travel wherever you want!