This study examines the current state of awareness of privacy in Thailand, with two important foci — general online users, and leading members of civil society related to the area of privacy advocacy. In the absence of a data protection law and amidst long information surveillance practices administered mainly through the security state, Thailand posits a unique setting for a research inquiry into privacy awareness and future advocacy in the area.
The study is carried out using two methodologies — a questionnaire-based survey with online users throughout the country, and in-depth interviews with selected members of social activist groups. Survey results show that patterns of privacy perception, levels of awareness, and reaction to privacy threats are variably influenced by factors such as socio-demographics, cultural attitudes, and online use characteristics. Meanwhile, public education is found to be the preferred option for promoting greater social awareness.
Civic leaders feel that the main threats to privacy and hindrance against social awareness on the issue lie in the following: lack of fair information practice principles, prevailing discourse of national security, unaccountable use of cybercrime law to probe into people’s private data, and cyber lynching and witch-hunts of political dissidents. They also feel that public education focusing on the affected case along with the use of human rights discourse within an international legal framework are preferred courses of actions towards the mobilisation of privacy awareness in Thailand.
* Assistant Professor, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University
** Lecturer, School of Communication Arts, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and PhD candidate at the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University.
(This work was supported by the Higher Education Research Promotion and National Research University Project of Thailand, Office of the Higher Education Commission (HS1231A). The authors of this article would also like to express gratitude to the International Development Research Council (IDRC) of Canada through the PrivAsia Project for funding this research.)
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© 2012 Journal of Law, Information & Science and Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.