Police have dealt with more than 10,000 cases of lese majeste in recent years, but the big figure was not because they had "got serious" with offenders after the coup in May, a senior police officer said yesterday.
Police Colonel Somporn Dangdee, deputy commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), told an seminar at Chulalongkorn University that legal action had been taken against offenders of Penal Code Article 112 since the tenure of the previous government.
"Police have monitored illegal behaviour continuously. We have not just become serious after the National Council for Peace and Order took over control of the country. We started since the previous government. Until now, we have dealt with more than 10,000 cases," Somporn said. He did not reveal the number of people prosecuted, or what he meant by "dealt with".
But he conceded that more arrests had been made after the coup, particularly in cases where the offence was committed through social media and the Internet. More cases have been brought to court since martial law was imposed.
The police officer was speaking during a discussion on "Law and privacy in the online world", held yesterday at the university's Faculty of Law.
Asst Prof Pirongrong Ramasuta, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn's Faculty of Communication Arts, said at the event yesterday that unlike in developed countries, Thailand has no law to protect people's privacy, particularly involving cyberspace.
"Moreover, Thailand is viewed as a state-controlled country. The government can have easy access to people's personal information. In many countries, this is regarded as violation of personal rights," Pirongrong said.
She pointed out that privacy is an important matter and essential for a democracy. She also called for protection of freedom of expression.
Kanathip Thongrawiwong, dean of St John University's Faculty of Law, said that violation of privacy was rife in the online world, with many people widely spreading personal information about others. He said that many people tend to believe information distributed online without checking its accuracy.