Living In Thailand? Better Upgrade Your Privacy!

March 11, 2019 by Shigraf Aijaz

Thailand is an attractive country with its beautiful vegetation and serene beaches. It’s a country where you would like to settle down. Well, you better not!

Now you must be wondering why I am saying this, but in my work as a cyber-security journalist I do know which country is the best place to settle down in “cyber-security wise.” This is why In light of the recent seemingly vexed events, Thailand is not really a great place to stay over.

The Thai government has recently launched a disputable cyber-security law that gives it absolute control over the internet. It further provides the government the liberty to access private information without a warrant.

In spite of the criticism, it faced while it was amended last year the country’s parliament passes the law. With 16 absentees the bill received 133 affirmative votes and faced no rejections.

Now for a person whose primary concern is his privacy, going off to Thailand is definitely off my bucket list!

The current, fairly strict Thai government came into power through a military croup in 2014. it claims that the passing of this law is to control cyber crimes.

However, there have been previous incidents of people going to jail over criticizing the government over social media as reported in The New York Times.

A few things a person can go to jail in Thailand due to their lèse-majesté laws are as follows:

1. Criticizing the king’s dog

In December 2015 a 27-year old factory worker Thanakorn Siripaiboon was arrested for posting a sarcastic post on “Facebook” regarding the late king Bhumibol Adulyadej ’s dog Tongdaeng.

The poor man was charged with 37 years in prison. His lawyers were able to bail him out with a bail of 500,000 baht after 86 days in jail.

2. Posting photos with seemingly critical captions

The harshest punishment given by lèse-majesté laws was to a 48-year-old Pongsak Sriboonpeng for posting six photos of the King and Queen with disparaging captions.

According to iLaw, the man posted four photos with seemingly critical comments. The Thai military sentenced him for 30 years in prison for posting those photos even though they were uploaded in 2013 even before the coup took place.

His sentence was, however, later cut to half when he pledged guilty.

Pongsak’s friend “Chayo’ was also sentenced to 18 years in prison for insulting the King in a Facebook chat. His sentence was later reduced to 9 years.

With this established that the Thai military is somewhat sensitive when it comes to the monarch lets proceed further on their latest law.

Why is the bill facing criticism?

The bill is currently facing much criticism by the locals as well as the businesses.

The law gives the National Cybersecurity Committee led by Thai military “to summon individuals for questioning and enter private property without court orders in case of actual or anticipated ‘serious cyber threats.’”

Although the government claims that the law is only targeting cybercriminals, locals fear that it may give the military unbound access to their personal information.

Furthermore, it also gives the right to the government to confiscate any data or device without a warrant in case of any threat.

These clauses have furiously caused uproar amongst the people. Civil liberties advocates, business holders as well as internet companies are protesting against the bill. They fear that the legislation would sacrifice privacy and would drive foreign businesses out of Thailand.

The internet activists have managed to dub the law as “cyber martial law.”

Are the motives of the government fishy?

Thai’s rubber stamp government unanimously passed another law on Thursday. They claim that this law is for protecting people’s information and would not permit state surveillance.

“We have made sure that it would not allow for the violation of individuals’ rights and arbitrary use of power,” said Ajarin Pattanapanchai, permanent-secretary of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society

“The law will not be used to regulate social media, or computers or devices belonging to the people.”

The experts, however, say that the vague language used in the document would give way for the authorities to find loopholes through a broad interpretation of the clauses.

The Thai government has a reputation of pushing the boundaries of several laws such as the Computer Crime Act in 2017. The introduction of this act was to cut down cyber-crimes such as phishing but instead the government is using it to deal with arguments.

Jeff Paine, the managing director of the Asia Internet Coalition, said the law “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.”

With such controversies ahead of us the main problem is for the Thai locals. The ultimate solution to these issues is a VPN network.

The ultimate solution, a VPN!

For those of you, who have no idea whatsoever regarding what is a VPN, allow me to enlighten you.

Well, to simplify it a VPN is a network that works to provide privacy, anonymity, and safety while using the internet. A VPN network has the reputation of hiding the user’s IP address making his actions untraceable online.

Furthermore, when a VPN network forms a connection it encrypts and thus adds up to the security of the user.

Ways a VPN protects and why should you use it?

As aforementioned that VPNs provide anonymity and privacy to its users, I am sure you all must be curious as to how they offer it.

Well, let me enlighten you! A VPN network allows you to stay inconspicuous over the internet by creating a safe passage for your data to pass through.

Your data is usually over the internet in the form of packets, which makes it quite easy for anyone to intercept them. A VPN, however, allows those packets to travel through a safeguarded passage.

Furthermore, it encrypts your data which further safeguards your privacy. With the data encrypted it is unreadable to anyone who does not have the encryption key.

This way even if by any chance, someone intercepts the data he won’t be able to read it.

Now one arguable point that people raise here is, why not just use a private browser?

Well, the difference between a private browser and a VPN is that a VPN provides end to end encryption while a closed network browser doesn’t.

there are other addition to the privacy features. One such feature is that in normal circumstances a person’s browser history and activity can easily be monitored by the ISPs. This is not possible for the ISPs to go through with once a user is in connection to a VPN.

A user, when connected to a VPN, the network first off makes up an encrypted channel towards a VPN server. The VPN network makes this connection even before the data reaches the ISPs. This makes it impossible for the ISPs to look at the user’s data.

Apart from that a VPN network has servers all over the world. This makes it impossible to track down the location as the activity can show up from a different location!

Therefore a VPN works up in every way to ensure your privacy.

3 Things which a VPN hides

There are many ways in which a VPN may provide privacy.  I have taken up the liberty to inform you about it:

1. IP address and location

An IP address is somewhat crucial as it lets say your online identity. If someone has access to your IP address, it can reveal your browsing history as well as your location.

However since while using a VPN, you get a pseudo IP address. This helps protect you privacy as well as location.

2. Web Activity

As you may have witnessed the government is particularly keen to have a sneak peek into your activity over the internet. They do so y asking the service providers (ISPs) to reveal your activity.

Now, remember a VPN service protects your data even from the ISPs? This way it can enable you to stay shielded from the Government’s eyes.

3. Browsing history

Your browsing history has the record of your activity on the web. Now, a person may want to hide the browsing history not just because he is doing something illegal! There might be other reasons too.

For example, you searched up some medical conditions and then all of a sudden you start receiving annoying pop-up ads! As VPNs hides your activity from everyone so it would allow you to stay anonymous!

Parting thoughts

Are you relieved now? Yeah with a VPN service enabled you can go ahead and live anywhere in the world without worrying about your cybersecurity!

VPNs are no doubt a blessing for people. Specially for those whose main concern is privacy as they are well efficient in safeguarding it.

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