Tech Thai politics

Suspended Sentence for Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn

The AP says:

A Thai court sentenced a local webmaster Wednesday to an eight-month suspended sentence for failing to act quickly enough to remove Internet posts deemed insulting to country’s royalty.

The ruling showed leniency against Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who faced up to 20 years in prison for 10 comments posted on her Prachatai website, but still sends the message that Internet content in Thailand must be self-censored.

Elsewhere, @Saksith has more details in his live-blog of the verdict.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a story headlined “Google and Rights Groups Condemn Thai Court’s Conviction of a Webmaster.” It says:

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.

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 the military coup in 2006. The act also has a far-reaching extraterritorial feature built in: an American 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.

There’s also an updated AP story. And coverage from VOA, Reuters, and more.

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