Thailand’s Criminal Court has set the date to hear the case involving Thai hip hop collective Rap Against Dictatorship, led by member เดชาธร a.k.a. Hockhacker, and representatives from Ministry of Digital Economy and Society regarding the blocking of Rap Against Dictatorship’s 2020 track, “ปฏิรูป” (Reform) on YouTube. The hearing is set for December 7, 2021, at 9 AM local time.
The hip hop group is challenging the petition filed by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society in Criminal Court for its request to “suspend the dissemination of computer data with inappropriate content” that resulted in the removal of the music video on YouTube.
Released on November 13, 2020, “Reform” is currently unavailable on YouTube Thailand “due to a legal complaint from the government.” Despite the local restrictions, the video has since gained nearly 10 million views as of writing.
According to ศูนย์ทนายความเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน (The Center for Lawyers for Human Rights), the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society submitted the petition to the Criminal Court on November 25, 2020, citing that the “content posed a national security offense” and thus required the service provider, YouTube, to “suspend the dissemination of the information… in a unilateral inquiry.”
Rap Against Dictatorship has subsequently filed a petition to oppose the order, arguing that “the request to suppress… is unlawful. Because it is a unilateral process, the opposing party, which is the artist who owns the work, has no opportunity to argue.”
Witnesses from both parties will attend the December 7 court hearing, including Rap Against Dictatorship’s Hockhacker (Dechathorn Bamrungmuang); Sajja Chokboonsongsawat, the Director of the Prevention and Suppression of Offenses in Information Technology; and Parinya Koichabok, a computer scientist.
The Center for Lawyers for Human Rights also noted that “previously blocking access to such computer data under Section 20 of the Computer Crime Act, courts often ordered blocking by considering only the request of the Ministry of Digital, which is the sole requester. Since mid-2021, the court has started to issue appointments for those affected by the Ministry of Digital Request to block access to content to attend the hearing of the petition.”
In a brief statement to HipHopDX Asia, Rap Against Dictatorship has confirmed the details about the hearing and said of the news, “We must share as much as we can.”
Watch “Reform” below (viewable elsewhere):