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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.