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California court denies Rainsy's request for Facebook information on Hun Sen

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who has sought information from Facebook related to Prime Minister Hun Sen's Facebook page, speaks at an event in France in April. Facebook

California court denies Rainsy's request for Facebook information on Hun Sen

A California court has denied opposition figure Sam Rainsy’s request that social media giant Facebook hand over information related to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s page, despite having previously indicated it would demand some of the data, saying the scope of the petition was overly broad.

Rainsy’s legal team first filed the request to Facebook in February, asking it to provide information relevant to his defamation conviction for having said that the prime minister has paid for online “likes”. Facebook initially argued the request was too broad, and on Friday Judge Sallie Kim agreed.

“The entire Application suffers from the problem of being overly broad and burdensome . . . And to the extent that Applicant seeks information about investigation of Hun Sen’s Facebook page, those should be limited to investigations regarding ‘likes’,” she wrote in her decision.

Rainsy first accused Hun Sen of having paid for online support after The Post revealed in March 2016 that 80 percent of his “likes” that month had originated overseas, with many of them coming from countries known to host so-called “click farms”.

His initial petition requested a variety of information from Hun Sen’s page, and accused him of violating terms and services by using the platform to make death threats.

However, Kim said abuses of Facebook’s platform are not relevant to Rainsy’s Cambodian court cases. During a hearing last week, the judge had said she was “likely” to grant parts of Rainsy’s request.

“Although the Court initially noted that some parts of the Application would pass muster, the job of the Court is not to re-write the Application to narrow its breadth and scope,” the denial reads.

She said Rainsy is free to file a new application, which specifically focuses on the claim of paying supporters.

“Applicant may request another Application within the scope discussed above,” it says in closing.

Rainsy said on Sunday that his team would revise the petition and re-file it.

“The information I seek is critical to the defenses against Hun Sen’s frivolous lawsuits in Cambodia and to exposing his widespread fraud and abuse of social media,” he said in an email.

He also called for Facebook to “cease its efforts to avoid transparency”.

Representatives for Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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