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Kidney foundation seeks court order over defamatory e-mail

Agence France Presse. May 6, 1999.

SINGAPORE 'S National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is seeking a court order to compel Internet service providers to give the names of subscribers who may have circulated a defamatory e-mail against it, the Straits Times reported Thursday.

If the court order, which takes up to a month to obtain, is granted, it would be the first ever served on Singapore's three internet service providers, the report said.

"A high profile organization like the NKF will always be subjected to comments both good and bad. We must be prepared to take a tough stand and face them," said Matilda Chua, NKF's senior associate director.

This unprecedented move follows a furor last week over an exercise by Singapore's largest Internet service provider which scanned the computers of its subscribers to check for a virus without permission.

The exercise triggered fears in the tightly-ruled island that even cyberspace was not free from state control.

The NKF's move arose from e-mail sent to several people by a local woman accusing the NKF of paying high bonuses to its staff. She allegedly urged them not to donate to the foundation, the report said.

Since then, the woman, identified as Tan Kiat Noi, has paid S$50,000 dollars to the foundation in damages and has publicly apologized and withdrawn her statements.

The 48 e-mail subscribers who have received the e-mail from Tan and forwarded them to others have been tracked down and received letters from the NKF's lawyers, the report said.

A lawyer for the NKF said the 48 were asked to disclose the names and e-mail addresses of those they might have sent the defamatory e-mail to and were given a week to comply.

They may also be asked to pay damages, the lawyer told the paper.

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