Thai police deny plans to spy on people's e-mails, mobiles

THE Police Bureau has dismissed social media reports that surveillance computer software it purchased from Italy could be used to spy on citizens via their e-mails and mobile devices.

Police spokesman Pol Lt General Prawut Thawornsiri, the chief spokesman, said reports of the 2012 deal with Italy-based Hacking Team worth more than Bt10 million (S$399,000) were groundless because surveillance on citizens was illegal and ran counter to national police agency policy.

Besides the national police agency, reports leaked by those who hacked Hacking Team's computer system show that the military and the Department of Corrections were among the Thai buyers.

Governments of many other countries were also named as past and present customers of Hacking Team, which specialises in surveillance software.

A Bangkok-based source said Hacking Team's software was sophisticated and highly-skilled personnel were needed to use the surveillance tools.

The Italian firm has been labelled unethical for selling the software to governments given the potential privacy ramifications.