U.S. Senator says Thai cybersecurity cooperation will increase

The Thailand-United States alliance will move from boots on the ground to bytes in the ether as visiting U.S. Senator Cory Gardner said bilateral cybersecurity cooperation will expand, after meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Bangkok last week.

Gardner, a Republican and who has represented the state of Colorado since 2015, is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy. He met with the Prime Minister at Government House and with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who oversees the ministries dealing with defense and national security.

They discussed a range of issues of mutual concern including the fight against human trafficking, wildlife trafficking, theft and infringement of intellectual property, drug trafficking and other transnational criminal activity. Gardner also discussed regional issues with the Thai leaders and said that the U.S. wants to deepen bilateral relationships in security and trade.

The senator specifically raised cybersecurity as an area where joint efforts would be stepped up. Both countries have been the targets of cyber attacks and are making greater efforts to stay a step ahead of cyber criminals. This is becoming an ever more important concern for Thailand as it attempts to adopt a national e-payment system, is becoming a regional hub for e-commerce, and a home for tech startups and incubators.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit said,“Asian leaders would discuss cybersecurity issues to develop a mutual law enforcement system,” after meeting with Gardner.

Deputy Government Spokesperson Lt-General Werachon Sukhondhapatipak said,“Both countries are facing non-traditional security threats. Thailand also affirmed its readiness to stress cooperation,” after Gardner conferred with Prime Minister Prayut.

The senator praised Thailand for the gains it has been making in combatting human trafficking. Prime Minister Prayut pointed out that Thai law enforcement, working with civil society groups, has rescued over 3,000 trafficking victims since the government adopted a zero-tolerance policy on trafficking four years ago.

In addition, over 400 traffickers have been arrested; over 1,000 human trafficking cases have been sent to the courts during that time. Among those already convicted and sentenced have been 11 high-ranking government officials.

While the Prime Minister expressed pride in the efforts of Thai officials in the fight against trafficking, he admitted Thailand is engaged in an uphill battle against traffickers and the campaign must be sustained in order to make the Kingdom free from modern day slavery.

Photo courtesy of http://www.thaigov.go.th/gallery/contents/details/1742