Feeds

Anon Mail commenters to stay anon

High Court rules they have right to privacy

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The Daily Mail does not have to identify the people behind two anonymously posted comments on its website because to do so would breach their rights to privacy, the High Court has said.

The subject of a news story had demanded information from the Daily Mail that would help her to identify the two commenters so that she could sue them for defamation, but the Court said that identification of those people would be disproportionate.

Mrs Justice Sharp said that the posters' rights to privacy were more important than the woman's right to take legal action about comments that were little more than "pub talk".

Jane Clift sued Slough Council after it put her on its list of potentially violent people following her complaint to the Council about the antisocial behaviour of a man in a park.

The Council said that Clift's conduct in complaining had been threatening and it put her name on the list, where it could be seen by Council departments and Government agencies, for 18 months.

Clift won her case and was paid libel damages. The Daily Mail's website carried a report on the story and a year after its publication Clift saw it. She objected to remarks made by two readers in the comments section of the web page.

She asked the High Court to order the Daily Mail to give her information which could help identify the people so that she could sue them for defamation. Her case was against Martin Clarke, publisher of the Daily Mail's websites.

Mrs Justice Sharp said that Clift's case was not strong enough to merit the identification, and that she should not have taken the comments as seriously as she did.

"It was fanciful to suggest that a sensible and reasonable reader would understand those comments as being anything more than 'pub talk'," he said in his ruling.

"The postings were of two lines and were effectively posted anonymously by members of the public who did not report to have knowledge of the matters they concerned," he said. "It is important to put the postings into context as to their meaning and what they were commenting on."

The judge said that more important than Clift's right to sue the commenters were the commenters' rights to privacy.

"The potential disclosure of information to [Clift] engaged the users' rights to respect for their private and family lives under the European Convention on Human Rights," said Mrs Justice Sharp. "It was disproportionate to grant the application."

Copyright © 2011, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.