BANGKOK (Reuters)-Thailand filed legal proceedings against technology giants Facebook and Twitter on Thursday on the grounds that the company ignored the request to delete content, which is its first step against major Internet companies.
Minister Puttipong Punnakanta stated that the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society filed a legal complaint with the cybercrime police after the two social media companies missed the deadline to fully comply with the delisting order issued by the court.
Puttipong said that no action was taken against Alphabet’s Google as previously described because its video platform YouTube removed the requested content late Wednesday.
Puttipong told reporters: “Unless the company sends its representatives to negotiate, the police can initiate criminal proceedings against them.”
“However, if they do this and admit wrongdoing, we can impose a fine.”
He did not disclose the details of the content, nor did he say what law was violated. Puttipong said the complaints were directed at the US parent company, not its Thai subsidiary.
Cybercrime police said at a press conference that they need to study existing laws to determine whether they have jurisdiction to sue companies located outside of Thailand.
Emilie Pradichit, executive director of the Manushya Foundation, a digital freedom advocate, said these complaints are “a strategy to scare these companies.”
The ministry will make more demands, asking Facebook, Twitter and Google to delete more than 3,000 projects, including criticism of the monarchy.
Twitter and Facebook declined to comment. Google did not respond to a request for comment.
Thailand has a severe law prohibiting insults to the monarchy. The Computer Crime Law prohibits false information or information that affects national security, and is also used to prosecute criticism of the royal family.
In recent years, the authorities have issued court orders to social media platforms to limit or eliminate people’s insults to the royal family.
The ministry also filed separate cybercrime complaints against five people, saying they criticized the monarchy on Facebook and Twitter during a major anti-government demonstration over the weekend.
Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Martin Petty