IN THAILAND: A SLOW AWAKENING
Pascale Prud'homme and Hassana Chira-aphakul
E-Commerce, Telecommunications & Technology Group
have been few developments in the IT sector since the publication of our
newsletter "E-Commerce Awaits" in June 2000. Despite numerous
government initiatives, Thailand still lacks the proper infrastructure
and legal framework necessary to support e-commerce. As a result, most
businesses operating in Thailand have been unable to take full advantage
of the opportunities it offers.
changes should take place in the near future with the adoption of specific
e-commerce-related laws and the forthcoming deregulation of the telecommunications
sector, which will bring security for businesses and users, reduced tariffs,
and higher speed connections. This newsletter provides an overview of
the proposed legal framework along with a summary of issues that need
to be tackled to speed up the deregulation of the telecommunications sector.
Adoption of a Legal
present, there are still five electronic-commerce-related laws on the
agenda. The Electronic Transactions Bill is awaiting consideration of
the Senate, while the Universal Access Bill is awaiting revision by the
Office of the Council of State. The Data Protection law, the Electronic
Fund Transfer law, and the Computer Crime law are still in the drafting
stage. The laws were drafted by the National Information Technology Committee
("NITC") in conjunction with the National Electronic and Computer
Technology Center ("NECTEC"), which acts as the secretariat.
Electronic Transactions Bill
adoption of the Bill is crucial for the development of e-commerce in Thailand,
because there are presently no laws and regulations that address transactions
taking place via the Internet with the exception of sector-specific regulations
or notifications (such as the Regulation of the Stock Exchange of Thailand
Re: Trading of Securities through the Internet System 2000).
Under the present system, electronic signatures are not yet recognized
as valid and binding signatures. The proposed Bill would resolve that
problem in addition to providing the legal framework necessary to support
electronic transactions and documents as well as allowing for their electronic
retention under certain conditions. When passed, the law will apply to
civil and commercial transactions with a few exceptions, which will be
prescribed in a Royal Decree to be adopted under the law.
the proposed Bill, electronic signatures will be given the same legal
status as handwritten signatures, provided that a "reliable"
method capable of identifying the signatory is used. The Bill, based on
the UNCITRAL model, is "technology neutral" in that it does
not require signatures to be made through the use of a specific technology.
However, a Royal Decree to be adopted thereunder will provide a list of
service providers may be required to register and/or obtain licenses,
as prescribed in the Royal Decree. An "Elec-tronic Signatures Commission",
a regulatory body under the Bill, is to be set up to lay down policies
for the promotion and development of the certification systems.
Electronic Transactions Bill was expected to be enacted by the end of
2000, having passed the third and final required reading of the House
of Representatives that year. However, adoption of the Bill was delayed
because the Senate failed to endorse it before the government's dissolution
when it lost the last election early this year. Recently, the new National
Assembly agreed to continue the consideration of the Bill drafted by the
prior government. As a result, the Bill is now awaiting scrutiny by the
Senate, which reconvenes in August of this year. However, there are rumors
that the Bill may undergo revision in order to clarify its scope and some
definitions. One main issue is whether or not transactions with the government
should be covered by this law.
Universal Access Bill
Universal Access Bill aims at promoting and supporting the development
of a proper information infrastructure throughout Thailand. This law is
necessary in order to comply with Section 78 of the Constitution of the
Kingdom of Thailand (1997) whereby Thailand must provide universal access
to information by developing adequate information infrastructures throughout
the country. Under this law, a special information infrastructure development
promotion fund is to be set up to assist local communities in the establishment
and development of their information centers. The Bill places special
emphasis on the allocation of funds to improve access to information by
the disabled, children, elderly, and the underprivileged in Thailand's
society. The Bill is presently with the Office of the Council of State,
and its contents are likely to be revised.
draft of the Data Protection law is almost finished and was released for
public hearing earlier this month. Based on the data protection laws of
the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, the draft law
will provide for the protection of personal data of individuals. The law,
which is aimed at protecting individuals from the misuse of their personal
information, will also regulate collection and retention of such information.
However, the proposed draft does not protect employees' data and does
not cover state agencies and mass media.
draft of the Computer Crime law is nearly completed. A partial version
was submitted for public hearing earlier this month. This law will clarify
what constitutes a computer crime, which includes, as a few exam- ples,
unauthorized access, interception of data, use of a computer; computer-related
espionage, forgery, fraud, and sabotage; and reproduction of a protected
computer program. The law will also provide for penalties for non-compliance,
but these sections were still being drafted at the time of writing.
Fund Transfer Law
Electronic Fund Transfer law is still in the drafting process, thus, there
is very little information about its contents. What we do know is that
this law should establish security procedures for electronic fund transfers.