Thai officials announced on Monday the arrests of nine teenagers who have participated in cyber-attacks against government websites.
The attacks were part of an Anonymous hacktivism campaign called #OpSingleGateway that started last year when the Thai government started working on a bill that would force the country's entire Internet traffic through one single gateway.
Critics argued that the Thai government was preparing to build its own version of China's Great Firewall, in an attempt to control what people could view online.
Local members of the Anonymous movement sprung into action in the month of October 2015 by organizing a hand-cranked DDoS attack against the Thai government (thaigov.go.th) and of the country’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) (mict.go.th) websites.
The hacktivism group used social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook and urged Thai citizens to access these two websites and repeatedly refresh the page, resulting in a manual DDoS attack that overwhelmed the two websites.
The attacks were successful and the Thai government backed down on the "single gateway" legislation.
After the failure of its single gateway operation, the Thai government proposed amendments to the existing Computer Crime Act in May 2016, which they approved on December 16.
Anonymous hackers tried to oppose the passing of these amendments, which allow the government to censor websites and intercept private communications without a court order, according to VoaNews.
Just like the previous year, Anonymous used a Facebook group called "Citizens Against Single Gateway" to rally the population and carry out similar DDoS attacks against government websites.
Another of these F5-powered DDoS attacks hit Thailand's defense ministry website on December 19. Later it was revealed that hackers also breached the Thai Police Office website two days earlier, on December 17. The website of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports was also attacked on December 23.
This time around, the government didn't take the attacks sitting down and went after the hacktivists.
According to Thai media, officials made numerous arrests. It is unknown how many suspects had been taken into custody in total. Nine of the arrests were made public on Monday, and revealed to be teenagers aged between 17 and 20.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said more arrests would follow, as officials are cracking down on local hacktivists.
Over 400,000 Thai citizens tried to oppose the passing of the Computer Crime Act amendments by signing an online petition, which officials dismissed.
Despite its clauses and broad language that might allow the ruling government to censor free speech and political debate online, the Computer Crime Act amendments also introduced harsher punishments for cyber-crime-related acts.