The Thai Government has just announced the Regulation Issued under Section 9 of the Royal Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2548 (2005) (No. 27) (the "Regulation") which is effective from 12 July 2021 onwards. Apart from recent restrictions due to the COVID-19 situation (e.g., announcing curfew, travel restrictions and partial lockdown), the Regulation also issues a measure on prohibiting any distorted information or news that causes misunderstanding during emergency situations.
This measure prohibits the spread or dissemination of news (whether by books, publications or any other media) that includes content which may:
(i) incite fear among the public, or
(ii) intentionally distort information to cause misunderstanding in emergency situations which affects the security of the state or the public's good morals across Thailand.
Violation of this section shall result in a fine not exceeding THB 40,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding 2 years.
The Regulation applies to any form of media, including online platforms. It is interesting to note that, under the Regulation, it seems like illegal content prohibited under this Regulation could potentially cover both statements which are false or possibly true, as long as such content is distorted and causes misunderstanding during emergency situations, whether related to the COVID-19 situation or not. The language used under the Regulation is quite broad and enforcement may be subject to the official's consideration and interpretation.