European Union

Ice Roads and Chilled Speech: ECHR Tags News Portal for Reader Comments

The Chamber of the First Section of the European Court of Human Rights held unanimously on October 10 that making a news portal liable for defamatory comments posted by its readers does not violate article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights protecting free speech.

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CJEU Advocate General Finds No Right to be Forgotten by Search Engines under EU Law

On June 25, 2013, the Opinion of the Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen (AG) in case C-131/12, Google Spain v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, was published.

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Metadata Surveillance, Secrecy, and Political Liberty (Part Two)

(This is the second part of a two-part post. In Part One, Bryce Newell examined the implications of government collection and analysis of metadata relating to electronic communications. Today, Bryce picks up from where he left off, considering the implications of government surveillance under different conceptions of freedom.)

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Metadata Surveillance, Secrecy, and Political Liberty (Part One)

(Following on from Rebekah Bradway's post last week regarding government-created metadata as public records, we are pleased to present a two-part post from Bryce Newell on the role of metadata in government surveillance. -- Ed.)

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I Feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills: EU’s Latest ACTA Proposal Outlaws the Internet

Sometimes a story is so insane that you can’t help but wonder if someone has slipped you some crazy pills.  See, for example, the Google prosecution in Italy.

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Unnamed Businessman v. Disqus

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Correspondence

Date: 

12/07/2007

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Disqus

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization
Intermediary

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Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Material Removed

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Disqus is a provider of a website comment system, which enables website operators and bloggers to fight spam and manage the comments appearing on their platforms. It also allows commenters to create profiles that store their comments from all websites and blogs using the Disqus system and incorporate ratings from other Disqus users. In December 2007, an individual claiming to be the president of a European company sent an email to Daniel Ha, a Disqus co-founder. The email complained about a comment appearing on a Disqus-enabled site. (In his post about the situation, Mr. Ha declined to identify the businessman or the site where the comment appeared.) The email demanded that Disqus remove the allegedly defamatory comment and threatened legal action in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the United States if the company failed to comply.

Mr. Ha refused to remove the comment and responded to the email, arguing that the decision about whether or not to remove the comment belonged to the site operator originally hosting it, not Disqus. He also invoked CDA 230, which protects providers and users of interactive computer services from tort liability for the statements of third parties. Mr. Ha exchanged further correspondence with the unnamed businessman, but maintained his position that Disqus would not remove the comment.

In a follow-up comment to his blog post on the situation, Mr. Ha indicated that the site owner contacted him and indicated that the comment would be removed. The situation thus appears to be resolved.

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Regulating Blog Campaign Advocacy

Allison Hayward, an assistant professor of law at George Mason University, has a new article coming out entitled Regulation of Blog Campaign Advocacy on the Internet: Comparing U.S., German, and EU Approaches. (Credit to Todd Zywicki at the Volokh Conspiracy for the tip.) Hayward writes in her abstract:

In brief, U.S. law protects blogging content, but may impose restrictions on the source of political commentary by barring certain funding sources. German law imposes stricter limits on the content of blogging, but does not regulate financial sources to the same degree. European court rulings may offer greater protection than domestic German law, but seem inconsistent and thus add uncertainty and ambiguity to the situation. In the end, bloggers may avoid legal entanglement because they enjoy public sympathy and support, but better still would be an international agreement to spare blogging from prosecution.

This is a subject we are working on for the CMLP Legal Guide, so I eagerly printed her excellent article (yes, I prefer to read things in hard copy). I'll touch on a few of the more important issues in this post.

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