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New Thailand cyber law gives police access to home computers

[JURIST] Thailand's 2007 Crimes Act [The Nation - Bangkok report] became effective Wednesday, granting authority to Thai police to confiscate and search private computers. The law is reportedly aimed at reining in Internet pornography and libel, with some violations that threaten national security carrying prison sentences of up to 20 years. Internet service providers will be required to keep individual user records for 90 days. Critics, such as rights group Freedom Against Censorship Thailand [advocacy website], fear that the Act gives police broad power to invade citizens' privacy.

In April, the Thai government banned access [JURIST report] to the popular video-sharing website YouTube [corporate website] and several other websites that contained material deemed offensive to the country's monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej [official profile]. Earlier this month, the nation abandoned a law [JURIST report] that allowed the cabinet to censor political or controversial Internet sites solely at the discretion of the Minister of Communication, instead providing that websites be censored only by court order. YouTube and about 45,000 other websites are currently blocked. The majority of the banned sites feature pornography or support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive], who was removed from power during a bloodless coup in September 2006. AFP has more.

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