PRACHINBURI — It seemed like a routine enough occurrence: Man harasses woman in public place by masturbating in front of her, woman films it and uploads video to internet to warn others.
But due to the vague language of a law that bans any dissemination of pornographic material online, some people voiced fear the woman could end up being charged for uploading her warning on Tuesday, though a police officer said that wouldn’t happen.
“This offense carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, or a 100,000 baht fine, or both,” wrote admin of a Facebook page called Your Companion Lawyer. “You can see that one can turn from a victim into a suspect.”
Some people also expressed confusion at the law’s harsh punishment, comparing to a relatively light fine for exposing oneself in public.
“I suppose, as a woman, I have to carry a gun, because the law doesn’t protect me at all,” wrote user Ami Lovelove in the Facebook thread.
The Computer Crime Act is notorious for its sweeping language that bans a variety of offenses on the internet, from posting porn to writing remarks that “damage the reputation” of other people or affect the “good morality of the people or national security.” Activists have long criticized the use of the law by corporations and state agencies to silence critics.
But after the unidentified woman uploaded the video of her Monday encounter at a public van stop in Prachinburi province, Lt. Col. Worawuth Suwannawik, deputy chief of Prachinburi city police, said fears she could be prosecuted were unfounded, because police also take intent into account.
“If she published the video with the intent to shame or damage the person, then she’d be guilty,” Worawuth said Wednesday. “But in this case, her intentions were to tell people to be careful, to let them know that this man is a danger to the society, so she lacks the intent to break the law.”
In fact, his superviser already ruled out any prosecution of the woman who posted the video, Worawuth said.
“There won’t be any charge. The station superintendent told us so last night,” he said.
The man in the video was also arrested on Tuesday evening, Worawuth said. He was identified by police as Bundit Pimpa, 40. He told officers that he was drinking before he went to the van station to wait for a ride home, and he exposed himself to the woman out of intoxication.
Bundit was fined 500 baht for indecent exposure, Worawuth said.