Chiranuch convicted, but escapes jail term
Prachatai webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn has escaped a jail sentence after she was convicted by the Criminal Court yesterday of allowing messages deemed as defaming the monarchy to stay on her website.
The court found she breached the Computer Crime Act by allowing a post deemed offensive to the monarchy to stay on her webboard for 20 days. She was sentenced to a suspended jail term of eight months and fined 20,000 baht.
Ms Chiranuch, 45, was charged two years ago for allowing 10 comments deemed offensive to the monarchy to appear on the website's discussion board between April 15 and Nov 3, 2010.
Under the act, enacted in 2007 by the coup-installed government of former prime minister Surayud Chulanont, service providers who "intentionally support" or "consent" to having illegal content in the computer system they control face the same penalty of five years in prison and a fine of 100,000 baht as the poster would.
Ms Chiranuch denied the charge, arguing she had done her best to screen comments.
But the court ruled that all 10 comments were offensive to the monarchy, which made them illegal content that posed a threat to national security. The court acknowledged the law does not specify the length of time that a comment must stay online to become an intentional act.
"However, if a webmaster or service provider diligently monitors the content in the computer system, which is within his or her responsibility to do, the webmaster should be able to screen out inappropriate content in due course," read the verdict signed by Judge Kampol Rungrat and Nittaya Yaemsi.
The ruling found Ms Chiranuch showed an intention to comply with the law when she deleted nine out of 10 messages within 11 days. One comment, however, was allowed to stay online for 20 days. The court found this was excessive and showed she had failed to carry out her duty.
The court sentenced her to one year in jail and fined her 30,000 baht, cut to eight months in jail and a fine of 20,000 baht for her useful testimony.
Since Ms Chiranuch had never been jailed before, the court suspended her punishment for one year.
Ms Chiranuch said she was satisfied with the court's ruling.
Google, meanwhile, has called the guilty verdict against the Prachatai webmaster a serious threat to the future of the internet in Thailand.
"Telephone companies are not penalised for things people say on the phone and responsible website owners should not be punished for comments users post on their sites," wrote Ross LaJeunesse, Google's head of public policy for Asia-Pacific, on the official Google Thailand blog.
"Unfortunately, the Computer Crimes Act is being used in this case to do just that."
31 May 2012
Chiranuch: Satisfied with court ruling