Do you spend too much time trolling and leaving anonymous comments on the internet? Then this might be not great news for you, but it certainly is for the rest of the planet.
It seems that ISPA (Internet Service Providers Association) is fully supportive of a new report issued by the Joint Parliamentary Committee regarding certain updates to the current Libel Law.
Needless to say what the association is mostly concerned about is what rules and regulations will the Defamation Bill incorporate when it comes to the written word online.
One might argue that right until now ISPs were put in an awkward position as they had to police blog or forum posts and decide what comments were acceptable and which were somewhat defamatory, which we all know is no easy task.
The Secretary General of ISPA, Nicholas Lansman, was quoted as saying:
“We welcome the Joint Committee’s report and urge Government to adopt a court based system that provides clarity to all parties involved and believe that a failure to provide a clear and workable regulatory framework for online content will not only have a chilling effect on freedom of speech, but will also undermine any efforts to protect robust scientific and academic debate more effectively.”
According to the ISPA, the government should somewhat relax the rules according to which ISPs should be the judges and jury of online content and instead welcomed the idea for matters to be taken to court between concerned parties (notice and take off the website). This arguably would make it harder for companies to use their “financial muscle” to file complaints back and forth everytime they received a negative remark from an anonymous user.
The following are a few extracts from the Draft Defamation Bill issued by the Joint Parliamentary Committee:
- The committee recommends changes to make it more difficult for companies to use their financial muscle and the threat of court action to silence critics. Before bringing a claim, companies would have to obtain the permission of the courts by demonstrating an arguable case that it has suffered “substantial financial harm”.
- Any anonymous postings must be taken down upon complaint, unless authors are prepared to identify themselves or there is an overriding public interest in publication. The committee recommends changing the law to promote cultural change so that, over time, the credibility of anonymous postings – and the damage that they can cause – is limited.