Canadian ISP sued for data handover

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Canadian ISP sued for data handover

A U.S. citizen who says he risks prison in Thailand has sued an Internet company for allegedly handing over his personal data, in a legal test touching on the kingdom's tough ban on royal insults.

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Anthony Chai, a Thai-born naturalized American who runs a computer store in California, said in a lawsuit that Canadian web service provider Netfirms. com Inc. broke U.S. law by sharing his personal information with Thai authorities. Photograph by: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Anthony Chai, a Thai-born naturalized American who runs a computer store in California, said in a lawsuit that Canadian web service provider Netfirms. com Inc. broke U.S. law by sharing his personal information with Thai authorities.

On a now defunct website, Chai posted anonymous comments critical of Thailand's "lease majeste" law in which criticism of the royal family carries up to 15 years in prison.

Even though he did not identify himself on the site, Chai said that agents pulled him aside for interrogation at Bangkok's airport and that he fears imprisonment if he returns.

In comments to Agence France-Presse, Chai said he hoped to draw attention to the "despicable" law on lease majeste and to test Thai authorities' contention that their rules apply around the world and not only inside the kingdom.

"So many innocent Thai people are now rotting in Thai jail across the country in Thailand because of their belief in freedom of expression," Chai said.

Netfirms.com Inc. did not respond to telephone messages seeking comment. The company's website says that it provides web hosting and domain names to more than 1.2 million websites around the world.

The lawsuit said that Netfirms.com confirmed in correspondence that it suspended the website Manusaya, on which users at Chai's shop posted anonymous comments, in 2005 after complaints from Thai authorities. Chai said he was interrogated in Bangkok in May 2006.

Chai said he suffered "severe psychological and physical stress" during two days of questioning, in which authorities seized his laptop, forced him to surrender his passwords and told them they knew where his family members lived.

Chai said he was forced to write a letter praising and apologizing to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the longest-reigning monarch, who is revered as a demi-god by many Thais.

© Copyright (c) AFP

From Canada.com