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Google Faces Thai Criminal Case For Not Shutting Down Blogger
Google’s founders, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and its entire board have been named as criminal defendants in a case in Thailand. The case arises under that country’s “Computer Crimes Act.”
David Hanks and Brian Goudie filed the criminal complaint after Google was non-responsive to requests to remove defamatory material from a blog hosted by the company on its Blogger platform. According to the criminal complaint, Google provided hosting to a site that was involved in “an ongoing coordinated campaign of defamation, abuse and cyber harassment” of Hanks and Goudie in Thailand.
The author of the blog was convicted and given a suspended jail term for the alleged harassing conduct. There are two other civil and/or criminal cases pending against the same defendant.
Despite the conviction the alleged harassment continued. Hanks said that Google declined to remove the harassing and offensive content notwithstanding the Thai court’s judgment:
[E]ven after this Blogger was sentenced to jail, the harassment has continued relentlessly. An article has been linked which is just beyond belief that anyone could write that way about another human being. This whole episode has been incredibly humiliating, my family are incredibly upset – Google refused to intervene so we have been left with no choice but to file these cases.
Court documents allege that Google breached the Computer Crimes Act by failing to act when the men submitted a request to Google earlier this year to remove the offensive material.
The current criminal case was filed after Google allegedly told Hanks it was “immune from prosecution” under US Communications Decency Act. However US law normally wouldn’t product Google from prosecution in a foreign country.
According to an article on the case, Thailand’s Computer Related Crimes Act permits “service providers” (which Google would be here) to be held liable for content if they’re notified of illegality and fail to remove the offending material. The law also provides for Thai jurisdiction over foreign companies doing business in Thailand.
There’s going to be a hearing to determine whether sufficient cause exists to move forward with a criminal case. If the court decides there isn’t, Hanks and Goudie say they’ll take their action in other countries, including the US.
Several years ago in Italy, Google executives were found individually liable for Google’s failure to timely remove a video showing the harassment of a disabled student. However those convictions were overturned ultimately by the Italian Supreme Court.
Postscript: Two individuals came forward after this was published to point out that the report cited above is a misrepresentation of the facts. They informed me that Case Watch Asia is Goudie’s own site. One post I was made aware of (written one of the objects apparently of the Hanks and Goudie complaint) alleges and Goudie and Hanks are long-time fraudsters and that Goudie is a convicted criminal.
So there’s a very sordid “other side” to this story that asserts the alleged defamation is in reality factual information about Goudie and Hanks.