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UK: Websites To Carry Libel Risk For Anonymous Posts?

     
5:51 pm on Oct 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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UK: Websites To Carry Libel Risk For Anonymous Posts [bbc.co.uk]
Websites should have protection from defamation cases if they act quickly to remove anonymous postings which prompt a complaint, a report says.

A joint parliamentary committee says it wants a "cultural shift" so that posts under pseudonyms are not considered "true, reliable or trustworthy".

It says websites which identify authors and publish complaints alongside comments should get legal protection.

But Mumsnet said the proposal could have a "chilling effect" on websites.

6:16 pm on Oct 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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where potentially defamatory comments are anonymous, the website should immediately remove them on receipt of a complaint, unless the author agrees to identify themselves, the report says.


Since most community posts are anonymous, it seems like this is an automatic takedown procedure. At the same time, if an anonymous poster claims "Politician X is taking money from suppliers to the ciy," there should be some means to pursue that to a conclusion.
9:37 am on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The news report seems a little confused which isn't unusual.

On the general issue of anonymous posting, if you write a letter to a newspaper they will publish it under a pseudonym but insist on knowing the sender's real identity as well. I have no problem with telling a reputable discussion board my name and address as long as I they are not displayed to the general public. Nor do I have a problem with them revealing it upon due legal process.

Making a board owner liable as "primary publisher" if s/he fails to take action over a defamatory post seems perfectly reasonable.
9:22 am on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Making a board owner liable as "primary publisher" if s/he fails to take action over a defamatory post seems perfectly reasonable.


But the board owner is now in the position of being a judge and if they make wrong decision they are still liable. I don't see a forum owner putting themselves at risk, they'll simply remove anything that has a complaint whether legitimate or not.
12:15 pm on Nov 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't see a forum owner putting themselves at risk, they'll simply remove anything that has a complaint whether legitimate or not.

Depends what evidence you have to back the claim. If the forum owner is an expert on the topic posted and verifies it (and in many cases this happens) he ain't going to remove anything. Regardless if the poster is anonymous or not, what he's posting can still be a fact. In such cases removal requests will backfire.
7:20 am on Nov 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The newspaper can verify your identity with reasonable certainty by picking up the phone and calling you. How does the website do it?

Americans may need to be reminded that there's no First Amendment in the UK. Truth is still a defense-- but it's the defendant who has to prove it. Which side can pay more lawyers?
10:25 am on Nov 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Why you need to verify the identity of the poster if you can verify what he states is true. You don't even care. We aren't talking about baseless complaints now do we?

Yes which side is going to pay....first? I don't think it will be the defendant.