28 September 2012
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Draft UK libel law forces websites to axe mudslinging comments

Can’t always be sued for defamatory posts, but can’t keep them online either

Courts would have the power to order website operators to remove comments that have already been ruled to be defamatory even if those website operators did not post the comments themselves, according to the latest revisions to the Defamation Bill.

Under the Bill people who have been allegedly defamed would be able to bring an action for defamation against website operators under certain circumstances.

However, website operators can generally defend themselves against such claims if they can “show that it was not [them] who posted the statement on the website”, providing that it is possible for those suing to identify the individual who posted the comments, and if the website operator has responded to a “notice of complaint” about the comments in line with as-yet-to-be-determined regulations.

Those regulations could set out how website operators should respond to requests to remove comments or set new obligations requiring them to provide details of the identity of website comment posters to those who have been allegedly defamed, according to the draft Bill [PDF].

Under the proposed new laws, though, courts would be able to force website operators to act to remove comments if the judges have previously determined the comments to be defamatory.

“Where a court gives judgment for the claimant in an action for defamation the court may order the operator of a website on which the defamatory statement is posted to remove the statement,” article 13 of the Defamation Bill states.

Source: the register

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