Google criticizes Thai law after Web master conviction

Web master of Thai news site gets eight months suspended jail sentence for not removing remarks insulting royal family, a ruling Google argues will threaten Thailand's Web future, report says.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Google has slammed a Thai court ruling that convicted Chiranuch Premchaiporn, a Web master for online news site Prachatai, for not removing insults to the royal family posted on the site and handing her an eight months suspended jail sentence.

According to a report by Bloomberg on Thursday, Premchaiporn violated the Computer Crimes Act because she failed to quickly erase content deemed insulting to the monarchy. This landed her the jail sentence that was suspended for one year, it noted.

Commenting on the ruling, Ross LaJeunesse, head of public policy in the Asia-Pacific region for Google, said the ruling is a "serious threat to the future of the Internet in Thailand". The precedent is "bad" for Thai businesses, users and the innovative potential of the country's Internet economy, he warned in the report.

"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," LaJeunesse added. "But Thailand's Computer Crimes Act is being used to do just that."

The Thai government takes any lese majeste offense seriously, as seen when it revealed it took down more than 5,000 Web pages with content that offended the monarchy.

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