Gamers and privacy campaigners in Thailand have claimed responsibility for the recent take down of several government websites in a coordinated DDoS attack last week. The attacks were in protest at government plans to route the entire country’s Internet through a single gateway, creating what has become known as “The Great Firewall of Thailand” in a nod to China’s strict control over Internet services.
According to Al Jazeera, the Anti-CAT Tower Mob—which includes e-sports gamers amongst its ranks—along with the Citizens Against Single Gateway Facebook groups called upon their hundreds of thousands of Facebook fans to execute a simple DDoS attack. The fans were instructed to visit official government websites while constantly refreshing the page, causing them to crash. Over half a dozen government sites, including the Ministry of Defence, and the main government website, were taken down.
In response, Thai Police announced that those targeting government sites could be charged under Article 10 of the Computer Crimes Act of 2007, and face up to five years in prison. While the controversial act has resulted in some amusing law enforcement moments in the past—including Thai military leaders warning against “underboob selfies,” it has also been used to ban Bitcoin, Uber, and dictator-simulation game Tropico 5. An estimated 110,000 websites were blocked as of 2010.
With e-sports rapidly growing in popularity across Thailand, gamers have been one of the bigger online groups to oppose the single gateway. They have even personified the gateway plans themselves in the form of an anime-style villain called Nong Kalaland, who’s said to hold “the power to control the internet in her fist.” Her namesake headpiece, a coconut shell (kala), is meant to represent Thailand’s self-obsession and wilful ignorance of the larger world, according to Thai site Khaosod.
The Thai government has since backed down from its single gateway plans, with the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Uttama Savanayana, saying that the plans were simply intended to increase Thailand’s competitive edge in the online economic sector.
He added that the single-gateway concept was the prime minister’s idea, and would ensure that young people who used the Internet were shielded from abuse. He also promised that the government would not infringe on the public’s right to privacy and freedom of expression.