TECH NEWS- Thai Police Request Access to Free Messaging App Records
In a move that is surprisingly contrary to the current world mood regarding monitoring of citizens by governments, the Royal Thai Police and Thai national government have requested that the free messaging app Line give access to their archives of online chat conversations. They claim that the reason for this is to extract information on people with suspected criminal activity such as narcotics and prostitution, as well as making derogatory or inflammatory statements about the Thai monarchy.
Thai laws is expressly clear in the fact that persons may not criticise the royal family with penalties of up to 15 years in prison for such offences. Actually the Thai government is very pro-active in ensuring that mentions of the royals on the web are non-offensive and having any critical remarks removed. Under the requested scheme to monitor Line conversations, the Thai government would be allowed to delve through a private communication between Line users and view any material that is posted publicly. It is still unclear whether officials will have to secure warrants for access to data.
Line say they have received no request from the Thai authorities about accessing their data and insist that they do not store or collect any Line user information. But with 100 million users worldwide and over 10 million in Thailand, they might want to do more to reassure people.
It is not just a concern in Thailand as the highly publicised cases in the USA and Europe have demonstrated with the question of how much access to citizen’s information should be available to law-enforcement officials. However that said it is not likely to decrease the use of the free messaging app as more and more people use them in place of SMS, to take advantage of the free messaging over an Internet connection as well as the ability to send media free, make voice and video calls in some cases and share audio and video files. The top free messaging apps all have millions of users who use the apps in the belief that their conversations are private and confidential. It will set an interesting precedent if governments are allowed further access to the app archives.
Tech Crunch “Thai Police Request Access to Line’s Messaging Records for Criminal Investigations” 13 August 2013
The Times of India “WhatsApp Rival Line to Give Thai Police Access to Users’ Chats” 13 August 2013
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