Thailand – defamation and insult can be considered as cyberbullying  

Previously, we discussed the difference between laws regulating cyberbullying in other countries and in Thailand. Some countries enact a law that enforces direct harm caused by one to another through electronic means either privately or publicly, such as the Cyber Protection Act 2017 in Canada, whereas Thailand uses the law on defamation, which requires a third party and intention to impute the others as components of offense.  

Therefore, in this article, we will now address cyberbullying legislation with an emphasis on children since bullying is more common among young people and children and it can now be engaged in social media. In accordance with the statistics of cyberbullying, the range between ages 14-18, the high school age, where reported bullying happened the most. Since the school is the place where the bullying happened physically and digitally. As a result, some countries have implemented legislation to protect minors against cyberbullying such as the United States and the Philippines which are Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Law and Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, respectively.  

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In Massachusetts, following the incident involving Phoebe Prince, a student at the age of 15 at South Hadley School, the state adopted such Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Law governing in regard to cyberbullying. It includes district policy requirements such as the need for Massachusetts school districts to prevent and respond to bullying conducted by one or more students developing a bullying prevention and intervention plan, which districts must review and keep up to date at least biennially.  

The Philippines also enacted Republic Act No.10627, or the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, which defines cyberbullying as an act of bullying and requires all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies addressing the existence of bullying by specific acts such as prohibiting bullies, identifying the measures to take against perpetrators, and the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide training programs for school administrators and staffs to improve knowledge and skills in bullying. The aforementioned rules also encompass cyberbullying that happens outside of school premises or on non-school devices, since these criteria demonstrate the serious concerns and obligations for minors who engage in cyberbullying.  

In Thailand, there is no specific law governing cyberbullying act or protecting minors against cyberbullying at all. The case of cyberbullying will be governed by either the Penal Code (PC) regarding defamation and insult or the Computer-Related Crime Act B.E. 2560 (2017) (CRC Act).

The difference between defamation and insult is whether it involves a third party or not. For example, if the bully intends to impair the bullied’s reputation by spreading the message with a third party which can cause hate or scorn, it can be considered as defamation offense under Section 326 of the PC. However, if the bully decides to spread the intention to impair the bullied’s reputation through the publication on the social media platforms, i.e. posting on Facebook or Twitter, it can be considered as defamation offense under Section 328 of the PC.  

Moreover, the case could be applied to Section 14 (1) of the CRC Act since cyberbullying must distort the computer data into a computer system such as a social media platforms. In the case of insult, if the bully insults the bullied in a private forum without the third party’s involvement, it could be applied to Section 393 of the PC. Whether it could be applied to Section 392 of the PC if the bully threatens the bullied causing fear or fright even though it is from the social network service platforms.  

Let’s be honest. Even though the Thai law has several ways to take the bully as guilty, it is just the offenses of defamation or insult. The Thai law should be more specified to cover the action of cyberbullying especially in minors since the high school age, between 14-18, were reported bullying happened the most. This can also reduce the increase of bullying behaviors and the depression or anxiety in the children since being bullied is the major cause.  

Author: Panisa Suwanmatajarn, Managing Partner.

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