Google and Rights Groups Condemn Thai Court's Conviction of a Webmaster
Posted in: Censorship at 31/05/2012 14:02
Google and human rights groups reacted strongly on Wednesday to a Thai court's decision to convict the webmaster 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 lèse-majesté, as royal insults are known. But the verdict on 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.
Webmaster Convicted in Thailand Case
A Thai court Wednesday convicted a local webmaster for failing to quickly delete posts considered insulting to Thailand's royal family, adding to world-wide concerns over governments adopting increasingly tough tactics to police the Internet.
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, 44 years old, escaped a potential 20-year prison term, instead being fined 20,000 baht ($630) and given an eight-month suspended sentence. Still, Internet businesses operating in Thailand, including websites operated by global giants such as Google Inc., will likely be chilled by the ruling, which sets a precedent for prosecuting website owners for what their users say online.
Future of Thai internet in peril: Google
Google has criticised a Thai court ruling that penalised a webmaster for insults to the royal family posted to a Bangkok-based website, saying it threatens the growth potential for internet businesses in Thailand.
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who manages web content for Prachatai, violated the Computer Crimes Act because she failed to quickly erase content deemed insulting to the monarchy, Bangkok's Criminal Court said yesterday. The court gave her an eight-month jail sentence that it suspended for one year.