A reader drew our attention to a report from 17 November that deserves some consideration. A Privacy International investigation has exposed the alleged role played by Microsoft in Thailand in human rights abuse.
Privacy International investigated the case of Khatha Pachachirayapong (คทา ปาจริยพงษ์) who was convicted on 25 December 2012 and sentenced to 4 years jail for lese majeste-like offenses under the Computer Crimes Act.
His case goes back to 14 October 2009 when there were a series of rumors that the king was seriously ill or had died. This caused a sell-off on the stock exchange in Bangkok, amounting to about 8%. Immediately, the then Abhisit Vejjajiva-led coalition government began a search for those responsible for the rumors.
The report states that a letter from Microsoft, sent in response to a Thai government request, was used in the prosecutions case.
This raises serious questions about the role of private companies in protecting their users’ right to privacy. The report asks:
Where called upon to provide information under laws routinely criticised around the world and by international organisations for their detrimental effect on fundamental human rights such as privacy and freedom of speech, Privacy International urges these companies to resist these demands from the Thai military Government and to develop clear rules for how and when they cooperate with governments, democratic or not.