Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Thai Webmaster's Conviction Called Blow to Internet Freedom

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Thai Webmaster's Conviction Called Blow to Internet Freedom

Article excerpt

A court in Thailand convicted the manager of an Internet message board for comments posted by users that insulted the Thai royal family.

Google and human rights groups reacted strongly on Wednesday to a Thai court's decision to convict the manager of an Internet message board for comments posted by users that insulted the Thai royal family.

Courts in Thailand have with increasing frequency jailed people convicted of lese-majeste, as insults to the monarch and his family are known. But the verdict Wednesday was different: Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who was sentenced to a suspended one-year prison term, was not the author of the offending comments. She managed the Web site that hosted them.

Taj Meadows, a spokesman for Google, said in an e-mailed statement that the verdict was "a serious threat to the future of the Internet in Thailand."

"Telephone companies are not penalized for things people say on the phone, and responsible Web site owners should not be punished for comments users post on their sites -- but Thailand's Computer Crimes Act is being used to do just that," Mr. Meadows said.

The Computer Crimes Act is controversial in Thailand partly because it was enacted by an unelected government installed after a military coup in 2006. The act also has a far-reaching extraterritorial feature built in: A U.S. citizen was sentenced to two and a half years in prison last year for uploading, from his computer in the United States, a translation of a book banned in Thailand. He was arrested during a visit to Thailand.

In Ms. Chiranuch's case, Judge Kampol Rungrat ruled that she was liable for one of 10 comments posted on Prachatai, a popular forum for discussions about politics and culture. But the judge said that prosecutors could not prove that Ms. Chiranuch "intentionally supported" the insulting comments and that it would be "unfair" to expect that a webmaster could immediately remove offending comments from a Web site. Under the law, however, it was nonetheless Ms. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.