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Thailand’s controversial new cybercrime law is drawing a response from hackers

Hackers are targeting the websites of the Thailand government and knocking them offline to protest a controversial new cybercrime law.

Several websites, including the site of the prime minister and the National Security Council, were rocked on Wednesday by for Distributed Denial of Service (DDOs) attacks. They were allegedly carried out by a group called Citizens Against Single Gateway, and come just a couple days after another group claiming to be Anonymous said it hacked the Thai police and stole some data.

The Ministry of Defense in Thailand has since come out and acknowledged the attacks, and asked the perpetrators to halt their protests.

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The DDOS attacks stem from a very divisive new cyberlaw passed by Thailand’s military-led government that will take effect in the coming weeks. Critics of the law, which is an amendment to the Computer Crime Act, say that it will stifle opposition voices and activists, and threatens the security and privacy of regular people by weakening encryption.

The law has been criticized as intentionally vague in terms of its new provisions. It allows for authorities to monitor and obtain user information and traffic data without a court order, and places a large burden on businesses to store user data for prolonged periods of time.

The law gives powers to the police to break encryption but provides no specific information on how they will do so or under what circumstances, which has created more questions. It also places huge restrictions on what people can say online about the regime, and places an onus on internet service providers (ISPs) to police their networks for dissent.

The UN has voiced its concerns over the law and its threats to online freedom, and has written a letter to the national assembly making its case against the legislation. More than 370,000 people have signed a petition demanding the government reconsider the law.

The government is remaining steadfast despite reports that some of the alleged hackers are foreign and acting in partnership with Thai activists. “As for a report that foreign hackers have also joined the attacks, I would like to remind them that doing so is unlawful,” said the minister of defense, Maj. Gen. Kongcheep Tantrawanich. “Attacks on the financial, banking, transport, and other systems will cause damage to all Thais.”

Thailand’s military junta assumed power in the country in 2014 following a military coup.