By WASAMON AUDJARINT
Thai Armed Forces' "cyberwarfare unit" has nothing to do with a controversial project to establish a single international Internet gateway, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said at his weekly press briefing yesterday.
Lamenting that the two issues had become mixed up, Prayut said the cyberwarfare unit aimed to combat advanced technological threats from abroad and spying, while the single gateway was more of a service issue.
Prayut also stressed that the military’s communication departments had long had their own cyber-units before the issue came under the spotlight. “The military deals with this [unit],” he said. “This has nothing to do with me. I am part of the government now,” and not the military.
Prayut’s reaction follows criticisms that emerged as the Army announced last week that it was setting up the unit to handle cybersecurity.
The announcement raised concerns over the extent to which the unit will have authority to control the Internet, especially how it might link to the single gateway. Some also wondered whether the cyberwarfare unit would deal with people accused of lese majeste.
The prime minister’s order to implement a single gateway for the country’s online system appears in four Cabinet meeting minutes from June to August. If established, the single gateway would allow the government, as the country’s major Internet service provider, to have absolute control over uses of the Internet countrywide.
Prayut and the government have said the matter is still being studied and is not planned for realisation any time soon. He also said that he would punish officials responsible for taking the Cabinet minutes for noting his words incorrectly.