Thailand admits spyware use

Thailand admits spyware use

The Thai government’s digital arm has admitted the administration has used spyware to survey individuals deemed a national society threat or narcotics offender, despite previously denying the use of spyware.

Reuters reported, Thailand’s minister of the digital economy and society Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said he was aware of Thai authorities using spyware in “limited” cases. He did not state which agencies were using such spyware.

"It is used on national security or drug matters. If you need to arrest a drug dealer you have to listen in to find where the drop would be. I understand that there was usage of this sort but it is very limited and only in special cases," said Chaiwut.

Chaiwut did not state it was the infamous Israeli-based Pegasus software being used. Still, spyware had indeed been used to "listen into or access a mobile phone to view the screen, monitor conversations and messages". The minister added he has no authority to use such software.

Thai human rights group iLaw, internet watchdog Digital Reach and Toronto-based Citizen Lab revealed this week Pegasus was used on 30 government critics between October 2020 to November 2021.

Spyware was allegedly used to charge 1,800 people who challenged Thailand's monarchy and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in 2020.

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