UK Trolls May See Legal Response To Defamation

The responsibility of users attacking users and authors in comments may be shifting from the website to the author of a comment. A recently introduced Defamation Bill discussed by the UK parliament suggests that websites would not be responsible for the postings of its users anymore, as long as they are willing to reveal a user's identity. The move is largely seen as a way to contain Internet trolling in which users tend to attack other users in a defamatory way.

There is no indication that a similar bill could succeed in the U.S. given the argument that the Defamation Bill may be violating the right of free speech, even if the free speech of some is harming others.

"Already there have been quite a lot of prosecutions for trolling but we actually think the public are entitled to proper protection against it," justice secretary Ken Clarke said in a statement. Clarke believes that a new defamation law could "strengthen freedom of expression by ensuring that material was not taken down from the internet without the author being given an opportunity to defend it", according to a FT article.

Of course, one could easily argue that online defamation should be held to the same standards as defamation in the real world, which would give Clarke's bill substantial grounds to succeed. Common sense suggests to treat others with respect and if you don't, there will be consequences to go along with it. If you engage in defamation in the real world, there may be legal consequences. Soon, there could be consequences online as well.

  • Parrdacc
    So what or who determines defamatory? What is defamatory to one person is nothing more than big talk to another. There are tons of people out there just looking to take what a person says and find a way to use it to attack them on any level (politicians come to mind); and these same people tend to be the ones who cry defamatory if you just plain disagree with them. While others just wave them off as blowhards and nothing more.
  • Kamab
    The people thinking about this law need to study the Streishand effect. No better way to spread a bad story about yourself then by sending legal threats to the author. Don't courts already have enough bad litigation to try to make decisions on?
  • Crush3d
    Wait, people take online comments seriously?

    Oh god.
  • Plasticjesus690
    Why the hell is everyone a victim these days
  • skaughtz
  • hoof_hearted
    I guess the online "bully" is going the be next big pc villain
  • LongLiveRock1974
    What a shame. Listen, if you can't put on your big boy pants when posting a comment, don't post. I shouldn't be held accountable for hurting your feelings. I think 40% of trolling is entertaining and some people deserve it for being retarded.
  • zetzabre
    In other words: "Ignorance in UK grows again".
  • nekulturny

    At least in the US, a jury of 12 of your peers do. As is the custom, you make it sound like it would be something new.....
  • Why is this even an issue?

    Posting a comment should be no different then saying something on the phone, or in a newspaper, or writing something in a book, or any other form of speech. There are already defamation laws on the books, why do we need more?

    As long as you attack the ideas in an internet reply, you can call them stupid all you want. Just dont attack the author and post false things about them and you are fine. What normal person does this anyway? I never have in the 10s of thousands of posts ive made on the internet...its not hard.... Which is no different then any other form of speech i use.