Tuesday, 29 July 2014



Bangkok, Thailand 29th July 2014

The US based directors of internet giant Google are  to face Court in Thailand in a landmark Cyber Harassment case.

In what is believed to be the first case of it's kind, multiple charges were filed today in Bangkok Central Criminal Court in two separate criminal indictments naming as defendants Google Inc, it's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and also CEO Eric E. Schmidt, along with the entire US based board of directors of Google in a criminal case involving alleged breaches of Thailand's Computer Crimes Act.

David Hanks

Two expatriate business men with business interests in Thailand, David Hanks, 66, and Brian Goudie, 47, filed the criminal charges in case number 2395 /2557 and case number 2396/2557.





















Hanks and Goudie submitted criminal indictments to the Bangkok Central Criminal Court alleging that Google has provided hosting services via it's Blogger platform to an 'alternative news site' - a site they say has been at the centre of a campaign of defamation and cyber harassment that has spilled over into threats of violence, real world stalking, harassment of family - including children, and publication of medical records provided to the Blogger by a beauty clinic operatoradvertiser on his site.

Hanks and Goudie allege that the owner of the blog along with a small number of individuals -around 4 or 5 they believe - have been using the blog and a number of fake Google profiles to engage in an ongoing coordinated campaign of defamation, abuse and cyber harassment.  The fake profiles cannot be traced, and the men are now expected to request the court to issue a subpoena to trace the IP addresses and other identifying data with a view to then prosecuting those responsible.

Hanks and Goudie allege that the blogger has misreported decades old stories, distorted the details of ongoing court cases and posted electronically altered 'photoshop' images with the intent to embarrass and humiliate them.

More, the say those responsible havesubjected the two men, their families, friends and business associates to an incessant tirade of abuse going back over two years. 

The Blogger at the centre of the controversy was given a four month suspended jail sentence in Pattaya Provincial Criminal Court earlier this year after being convicted in a case brought by Hanks, and will face Court again in three new cases on August 6th 2014 on related charges. In addition they say, the Blogger is now on bail awaiting trial in two other cases.

Hanks said " even 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. It is alleged Google responded claiming they were immune from prosecution under US Code 220 ( the Communications Decency Act) and refused to remove material in dispute. Following this response from Google the two men instructed lawyers to initiate a criminal prosecution under Thailand's tough Computer Related Crimes Act.

Documents filed with the Court allege that Google's Blogger platform and search engine results contain illegal data, or links to illegal data, and that Google and it's directors have committed multiple criminal offences by failing to remove the offensive posts when requested. Under s. 15 of the Computer Related Crimes Act a 'service provider' can be held legally responsible for illegal content if they are notified properly and fail to remove the material, and s. 17 allows overseas based service providers to be prosecuted in Thailand.

Goudie said today ' It is regrettable that we have been forced to take this action, but Google have refused to remove the material, or force the Blogger to amend it - this is not about a 'right to be forgotten' - it is a about a basic human right to live a life without being harassed, ridiculed and embarassed on the internet. This blogger acts as judge, jury and executioner and is incapable of distinguishing between, fact, opinion, supposition and conjecture - even outright lies are ok. He wrote on his blog for him it is 'entertainment'. I can tell you we dont find it funny at all, and we hope the court will take a similar view'.

Lawyers say the case has been drafted to follow the reasoning that Google is a 'secondary publisher' as found in two previous cases filed against Google in the UK and Australia - in one case in Australia, Trijulka v Google, the Court awarded damages of AUD 241,000 (USD 204,000) - Hanks and Goudie say proceedings will be filed in the UK and Australia, and the US if necessary. 

The current case follows the recent 'right to be forgotten' decision by the European Court of Justice handed down against Google in June this year. 

The Court has issued summonses to the defendants and the case has been set down for a preliminary hearing on 22nd September 2014 to allow the Court to decide if a prima facie case exists to then take the case forward to a full trial. 


1 comments:

  1. Who's your lawyer. He must be wickedly good. Or is it you.

    ReplyDelete