Feeds

ISPs welcome UK Net libel review

Not judge and jury

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

The UK Internet industry has welcomed a report by the Law Commission examining defamation and the Internet

The report found that there is a "strong case" for reviewing the way that defamation law currently affects ISPs.

The preliminary findings - prompted by the Lord Chancellor in January - suggest that there is a possible conflict between the pressure put on ISPs to remove material and people's right to freedom of expression as embodied under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Several ideas are currently being floated that would protect ISPs and one suggestion is to exempt ISPs from liability, as is the case in the US.

The UK ISP lobby group, ISPA, welcomed today's report and said it would work with the Government to draw up any new legislation. However, ISPA is concerned that the report focuses only on defamation and would like the work extended to include a review into copyright.

Scottish telco THUS, which owns Demon, also welcomed the Law Commission's call for a review of how the defamation law affects the Internet.

In 1999 Demon faced a defamation case which centred on a Usenet article about Laurence Godfrey. Thus's Internet content regulation manager, Mark Gracey, said: "Despite having no editorial control over material hosted on their servers, ISPs are currently being held legally responsible for defamatory, copyright-infringing and other types of content.

"This puts ISPs in the untenable position of acting as judge and jury in cases where complaints have been made, having to balance the rights of the complainant with those of their customer and the risk to their business.

"The law should recognise that it is the author of the material, not its distributor, who is responsible for ensuring the legality of information online."

Last week, an Australian court ruled that entrepreneur, Joseph Gutnick, has the right to have a defamation case against US online publisher Dow Jones heard in an Australian court. Dow Jones argued that any libel case should be heard in the US since that was where the story had been published.

The Australian court's ruling opens the doors for publishers to be subject to the law where material is downloaded, not published.

In the report today, the Law Commission concluded that the issue of jurisdiction and applicable law "has always been complex" and that there are "no easy answers". Any solution would require an "international treaty, accompanied by greater harmonisation of the substantive law of defamation".

"We do not think that the problem can be solved within the short to medium term." ®

Related story

Aussie Net libel writ extends to world+dog

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple ran off to IBM
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.