Thailand's Anti-Fake News Center Fuels Concerns over Press Restrictions
Thailand plans to set up a center to fight the spread of fake news on social media and the internet. Government officials have said they expect the center to open by next month.
Thai rights groups and opposition parties are concerned. They fear that officials may use the new center to target and silence government critics.
In elections this past March, voters returned to power the military leaders who seized power in 2014. After the vote, Thailand's armed forces arrested hundreds of people for critizing the military and protesting the ouster of the civilian government. Some of the criticism appeared on website or social media.
Thailand's Digital Economy and Society Minister announced plans for the center two months ago. The country is among several Southeast Asian nations taking steps against online fake news.
The state-operated National News Bureau of Thailand later reported that the center would open by November 1. Its job is to examine fake news stories found online and react to any untruthful reports that could endanger peace and security.
The center will have its own website and work with the messaging software application Line. The news bureau said the center would deal mainly with issues like natural disasters, the economy and finance, health products and government policy.
However, opposition parties and rights groups say the history of the military rulers and the government that has replaced them provide reason to worry.
Sunai Phasuk is a researcher working in Thailand for the rights group Human Rights Watch. She told VOA "there are serious concerns that the...fake news center of the government will be yet another tool for censorship."
People working for Thailand's digital economy and society minister told VOA that no one was available to comment for this story.
Government critics are worried that the center will have the power to arrest people or take legal action against them.
The digital economy minister "has made it clear that the center will...[be] authorized to prosecute people with various laws," Sunai said.
Arthit Suriyawongkul is a co-founder of the Thai Netizen Network, which speaks up for freedom of speech online. He is also worried about the planned center.
Arthit said that Thai officials have too often called critical opinion "fake news."
He added, "We found that the effort...is actually targeted [at] those [who are] anti-government."
Thailand is not alone.
Lasse Schuldt is with the law department at Thailand's Thammasat University. He said that Southeast Asia has become a test ground for laws against "fake news."
Malaysia and Singapore have gotten the most attention for recent legislation that bans "fake news." But Schuldt noted that other countries in the area have their own laws governing fake news.
In Thailand, the Computer Crimes Act makes it a crime to share false information online. Vietnam and Indonesia have similar ‘fake news" centers.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
1.set up 建立
He set up a stand on the pedlars' market.
2.fake news 假新闻
We just usually do fake news and jokes.
3.false information 虚假信息
I will let you know that is false information.
4.natural disasters 自然灾害
Poverty and human folly magnify natural disasters.
5.Government critics are worried that the center will have the power to arrest people or take legal action against them.
have the power to 有权...
Human societies have the power to solve the problems confronting them.
Fathers have the power to dominate children and young people.
6.Government critics are worried that the center will have the power to arrest people or take legal action against them.
take legal action against 采取法律措施
They might try to take legal action against you if you break the terms of the contract.
We will look to see if we can take legal action against the government either in England or Europe.
泰国计划设立一个中心，打击假新闻在社交媒体和互联网上传播 。政府官员说，他们预计该中心将在下月开放 。
泰国人权组织和反对党对此表示担忧 。他们担心，有关官员可能会利用该中心来针对和打压政府的批评人士 。
在3月份的选举中，选民再次让2014年夺权的军方领导人掌权 。选举结束后，泰国武装部队逮捕了数百人，因为他们批评军方并抗议民选政府被赶下台 。其中一些批评出现在网站和社交媒体上 。
两个月前，泰国数字经济和社会部宣布了设立该中心的计划 。该国是数个采取措施打击网络虚假新闻的东南亚国家之一 。
国营的泰国国家新闻局随后报道称，该中心将于11月1日开放 。其职责是审查网络上出现的虚假新闻报道，并对可能危害和平与安全的不实报道作出反应 。
该中心将拥有自己的网站，并与消息传递应用程序Line合作 。泰国国家新闻局表示，该中心将主要处理自然灾害、经济和金融、医疗产品和政府政策等问题 。
苏奈·帕苏克（Sunai Phasuk）是泰国人权观察组织的研究人员 。她告诉美国之音：“人们非常担心政府的打击虚假新闻中心将成为另一个审查工具 。”
泰国网民网络的联合创始人阿铁（Arthit Suriyawongkul）为网络言论自由奔走 。他也担心这个拟建的中心 。
莱塞·舒尔特（Lasse Schuldt）就职于泰国法政大学法律系 。他说，东南亚已经成为打击“虚假新闻”法律的试点 。
马来西亚和新加坡最近立法禁止“虚假新闻”备受关注 。但是舒尔特指出，东南亚的其它国家也有各自的治理虚假新闻的法律 。
泰国的《计算机犯罪法》规定，在网上传播虚假信息为犯罪行为 。越南和印尼也有类似的“反虚假新闻”中心 。