Thailand Drops Plan to Sue Google

Posted May 11, 2007 by Chris V. Thangham

Thailand withdraws lawsuit against Google after the videos are taken down by Google.
The Thai government abruptly scrapped plans to sue Google Inc. after the U.S. Company agreed to remove from a Web site video clips deemed insulting to the country's revered king, an official said Friday.
Earlier, Thai Government had blocked access to YouTube, owned by Google, after YouTube showed a video mocking Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej. And Google refused to take down the clip despite many request from Thailand Government, as a result Thai Government sued YouTube.
But today, Thai Government withdrew its lawsuit suddenly. Vissanu Meeyoo, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology spokesman said that they decided not sue Google after Google agreed to cooperate in removing 12 video clips from the YouTube website.
One of the video clips shows shoes with the soles pointed toward the king’s image, which is a major taboo in Thai Culture where feet are considered dirty and offensive. Also the King is revered in Thailand which made it doubly offensive.
"We have the deepest respect for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej," Google wrote in a letter to the ministry. "We likewise respect Thailand's law and tradition and hope that we will be able to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to the current controversy."
The Government ministry had originally planned to file a criminal lawsuit against Google on charges of lese-majeste (offense against the monarchy), carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years. It would have been interesting if they had gone ahead with the lawsuit, who would be sent to prison Larry Page or Sergey Brin or the current CEO Schmidt?
Laws are very harsh in Thailand; a Swiss man was sentenced to 10 years in prison in March after he defaced posters of the king during a drinking binge. He was sent to prison but after sometime he was pardoned and deported back to his country. Most probably Swiss officials would have negotiated with the Thai authority.
It ended amicably between the Thai and the Google. Some might say Google just gave up with little protest, what is fun for one country may not be fun for others. Only question will Google take down videos disrespecting other leaders or Thai Government doesn’t show any videos mocking other leaders?