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Proposed UK Online Libel Rules Would Restrict Anonymous Posting 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the name-your-name dept.
judgecorp writes "A Parliamentary Committee in the UK has suggested that sites should be protected against libel claims against contributors — as long as those contributors are identified. Anonymous postings should be taken down if someone complains of libel in them, in a set of proposals which online community groups have described as 'chilling.'"
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Proposed UK Online Libel Rules Would Restrict Anonymous Posting

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  • Anyone Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Thursday October 20, 2011 @11:59PM (#37787726)
    It was only a matter of time before the absurdly loose libel laws and near total lack of privacy law in the UK combined in some manner even more horrifying than either of them were individually.

    Synergy at its darkest.
    • by cappp (1822388)
      Read the proposal itself [parliament.uk], you might be somewhat comforted. I think TFA is specifically referring to section 3 [parliament.uk] where they state

      we recommend that any material written by an unidentified person should be taken down by the host or service provider upon receipt of complaint, unless the author promptly responds positively to a request to identify themselves, in which case a notice of complaint should be attached. If the internet service provider believes that there are significant reasons of public interest that

      • if you disagree, call your Member's number.

        Sorry, but I can't decide whether to make this joke a little bit vulgar or a whole lot vulgar.

    • Care to point what you refer to?
      Does a lack of privacy laws (do they really lack?) not indicate that you need stronger lible laws as compensation?

      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        I'm skipping the anonymous part.
        But what about the report that chiropractors aren't real doctors that came our a few years ago?
        Or how saying anything about a celebrity/gov official is considered out of bounds (even with sources)?

        Hate US journalism/reporting/TMZ as much as you want, but at least the government doesn't censor it.

        • Erm,

          first of all in germany chiropractors are real doctors (they need to be a doctor in a related field to use this therapoitc way).

          Second, it is not the governmen that is censoring anything. It is the defendender who does.

          Just because there is a "law about x" it does not mean the the government is going to "enforece" it on your behalf. You have to go to court yourself.

          Or how saying anything about a celebrity/gov official is considered out of bounds (even with sources)?

          No they aren't. Where did you get tha

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            first of all in germany chiropractors are real doctors (they need to be a doctor in a related field to use this therapoitc way).

            GP is presumably referring to the Simon Singh/British Chriopractic Association case. You have to be register as a chiropractor in the UK (not sure you need to be a doctor), but even if you are a fully qualified medical doctor, quackery is still quackery.

            I wouldn't care if the head of the Royal Astronomical Society spoke in favour of it, astrology is still bollocks.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          But what about the report that chiropractors aren't real doctors that came our a few years ago?

          But the quacks finally lost that case, although admittedly it did show the imbalance of power in the libel laws.

      • by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

        No, a lack of privacy laws just means that stronger libel laws are more likely to hit you.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      It was only a matter of time before the absurdly loose libel laws and near total lack of privacy law in the UK combined in some manner even more horrifying than either of them were individually.

      Our libel laws are far from perfect, in that they are weighted too heavily in favour of the rich and powerful, but do you consider the concept of libel/slander wrong in itself?

      And the idea of privacy does not extend to having a right to commit illegal acts anonymously, even in somewhere as keen on rights as the US.

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      As opposed to the US's libel laws, where the person with the most money can say anything they like about you and then financially cripple you with lawyer's fees if you complain?

      Oh, and in the UK we have far stronger privacy laws than the US, where you are basically forced to give any company you want to deal with enough information to assemble an identity theft kit, which they are then free to pass on to anyone they feel like.

  • I know that UK libel laws are stupidly easy to abuse, but does anyone know if those laws can be applied to a website hosted outside the UK and not having a direct UK affiliation (ie a .com not a .co.uk)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcavic (2007672)
      No, the UK can't force anything on a site hosted outside the UK. They can block the traffic inside the UK, with varying degrees of effectiveness (see China, Egypt).
      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        No, the UK can't force anything on a site hosted outside the UK. They can block the traffic inside the UK, with varying degrees of effectiveness (see China, Egypt).

        If they can tie either an anonymous post by a UK citizen, or website/hosting ownership of the offshore website where an anonymous post by a UK citizen is made to a UK citizen, couldn't they prosecute them?

        I'm not at all certain that a UK citizen in the UK would be safe from prosecution just because they either made an anonymous post on an offshore website, or if they administered or paid for hosting an offshore website where a UK citizen made an anonymous post.

        Governments and corporate entities worldwide sh

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          I'm not at all certain that a UK citizen in the UK would be safe from prosecution just because they either made an anonymous post on an offshore website, Libel is a civil matter, you can't be "prosecuted" for it by teh evil government.

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            I'm not at all certain that a UK citizen in the UK would be safe from prosecution just because they either made an anonymous post on an offshore website, Libel is a civil matter, you can't be "prosecuted" for it by teh evil government.

            --
            To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it

            I (and apparently the UK government) am not talking only about potentially "libelous" posts, simply "anonymous" posts by a UK citizen, and/or websites/hosting administered/owned by a UK citizen that allow/contain anonymous posts by a UK citizen.

            Say for example some UK official or bureaucrat is angry at some UK citizen because he cheated on that bureaucrat's/official's daughter, finds that citizen made an unrelated, non-libelous

    • by julesh (229690)

      AIUI, if anyone with the administrative priveleges to remove a post were in the UK, this would apply to them, regardless of the physical location or network address of the server.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Well, if it's accessible in the UK, then the libelled person can sue in a UK court, and will probably win. There's not a lot they can do to you if you never enter the UK.
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      You can get a judgement in the High Court, and you can transfer that judgement to courts in other EU countries. Otherwise you might have difficulty enforcing the judgement, but yes, the law does apply unless you block UK IP addresses.

  • by c.r.o.c.o (123083) on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:15AM (#37787782)

    The way I see it, there is no way for the UK government to control UK or foreign citizens posting on foreign sites. All this new statute will achieve is moving the servers offshore and killing homegrown businesses. Sure, the new sites will not have the .co.uk domain, but with so many TLDs available today, I doubt it makes as big a difference as it used to.

    As an example, one of the sites I frequent is radomcarmodel.to for Toronto, not for Tonga. We are yet to have a single visitor that made that confusion.

    • by caitsith01 (606117) on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:51AM (#37787952) Journal

      The way I see it, there is no way for the UK government to control UK or foreign citizens posting on foreign sites.

      Right now, if I am in France and you are in Venezuela, and you post a highly defamatory article about me on a server in New York, and someone else in the UK reads it... I can sue you in the UK for defamation. The law focuses on the place of publication, which at the moment is treated as the place where the material is accessed and read (arguable I can sue you in multiple places... see here: http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/it&law/c10_main.htm [ed.ac.uk]). So long as I have some reputation in the UK and you cause harm to that reputation by publishing 'into' that jurisdiction, I can sue you there. This is a huge problem with internet defamation law at the moment.

      There is no reason why the UK government can't make laws in relation to anything accessed from the UK, even if it's stored elsewhere.

      • Except that the UK would have to enforce it. The UK can't fine, imprison, or otherwise make your life miserable if you are from another country.
        • Except that the UK would have to enforce it. The UK can't fine, imprison, or otherwise make your life miserable if you are from another country.

          In a civil context enforcement of foreign judgments is perfectly possible and commonplace. They can easily make a law creating private civil rights which are then likely to be enforceable in most foreign jurisdictions.

          In a criminal context, they can potentially extradite you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TechLA (2482532)
          As long as you intend to only stay within your country, and as far as your own country doesn't extradite you for it. If you ever want to travel anywhere that has extradition treaty with UK (pretty much everywhere), they can get you. US has a long history of doing that, and afterwise enforcing their own laws to foreign nationals. Even with copyright infringers.
        • by Tim C (15259)
          They can if you ever set foot in the UK.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:18AM (#37787800)

    The internet was for a long time, a "wild west". This bought a magnification of human nature. It brought astounding good, people communicating instantly with others all around the world about their interests, collaborations to accomplish amazing things, freedom of communication, cross cultural contacts. It brought also trolls, idiots, collections of self reinforcing stupidity, harassment, greed.

    But above all, it brought something the authorities couldn't control. And that scared them - it made them vulnerable to their own version of the Arab Spring, even if peacefully so, by shining a big light on their actions. It meant people couldn't be protected "for their own good". It meant there was communication they couldn't control. That couldn't be allowed to stand. The good that anonymity does will be lost, because of the bad it allows.

    So: it's inevitable that it becomes much harder to be anonymous online, not just in the UK, but in the USA and elsewhere. Sure, those in the know will post through anonymous proxies and VPNs and so on, at least until such encrypted traffic is blocked. And then there is steganography, but at each of these steps, the number of people knowledgeable enough to do it becomes 3, maybe 4 orders of magnitude smaller.

    It's only a matter of time until the internet becomes the most powerful panopticon the world has ever known. There aren't enough people who care, to stop it from happening.

    • by dmomo (256005)

      Except for the fact that if the technology is there, it's very hard to suppress it. Not to say this cannot be done, but technology makes it very easy for us to communicate in many ways. Unless every form of communication is actively monitored even laws requiring anonymity will be but trivial roadblocks for those who desire to get a message to its destination. If communication is monitored, messages will be lost in the noise as they likely are now.

      What I think will happen is this. Barriers will be put in

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      The Arab Spring happened because people reached a tipping point and were pissed off enough at the genuine repression they were under to risk physical harm/death by getting their arses on the streets., rather than sit around on internet forums moaning about paying taxes and boasting about the number of guns they had.
  • everyone is called "bill gates" from that moment onwards.

  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:43AM (#37787912) Journal

    It's important to understand that in the UK (and Australia... and Canada... and many other places) there are much, much stronger legal principles surrounding defamation than you are used to in the US. The idea is that you are free to say anything - but not free to cause harm to others without compensating them. So if you publish something which alleges that a particular individual is a child molester (and they aren't), they are entitled to come after you to recover in dollars the harm you have caused to their reputation.

    There are scenarios in which both the US and common law systems seem perverse. In the common law world, defamation often becomes the tool of the rich and powerful to silence criticism or discussion about them. A country like Singapore demonstrates what happens when common law defamation is abused to the fullest extent. But in the US, people at times appear to have liberty to destroy reputations without consequence under the guise of "free" speech.

    So to consider this, you have to start from the proposition that if someone publishes something which is defamatory of someone else, that person has a prima facie right to sue and recover damages. Another principle of common law defamation is that anyone involved in the publication process, or republication, is potentially liable along with the person making the defamatory statement. Including, for example, the operator of a website.

    Right now, without any reform, it is already the case in many common law countries that a person who has been defamed on-line may pursue the website operator for disclosure of information about the original poster of the defamatory publication. In the context of anonymous publications, it already makes sense for the website to collect as much info as they can get away with about their users in order to protect them in this scenario. Where I live (Australia) this happens almost by default - anonymous posting is rare, and most sites make at least a token attempt to get your name and email address. I can also guarantee that any Australian website hit with a threat about a defamatory third party comment they are carrying will pull the comment instantly.

    So the real question is, should defamatory anonymous on-line posting be regarded as similar to defamatory graffiti on a toilet door, where although someone is strictly speaking liable for it, there is general acceptance that to find them would be impossible? Or should it be regarded as something closer to a newspaper or television station which republishes someone's defamatory comments? In that scenario, the newspaper/TV station along with the person who made the comments would all be potentially liable.

    Personally, I favour the "Wild West" view of the net. The almost absolute freedom of speech it provides in a practical sense also results in a corresponding decrease in the credibility accorded to any one posting on-line. Not too many people are dumb enough to read user comments on a website and take them with anything less than a shovel full of salt. However, I suspect our parliamentary and judicial overlords will see it rather differently, and this type of proposal will eventually make it into law...

    End rant... if anyone's still reading.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      So the real question is, should defamatory anonymous on-line posting be regarded as similar to defamatory graffiti on a toilet door, where although someone is strictly speaking liable for it, there is general acceptance that to find them would be impossible? Or should it be regarded as something closer to a newspaper or television station which republishes someone's defamatory comments? In that scenario, the newspaper/TV station along with the person who made the comments would all be potentially liable.

      I

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday October 21, 2011 @07:28AM (#37789714) Homepage Journal

      The idea is that you are free to say anything - but not free to cause harm to others without compensating them.

      No, the idea is that the powers that be should be able to clamp down on unpopular speech, which is why the truth is not a defense in libel cases on that side of the pond, and it's one reason why speech is provably less free in Britain than in America. Over here, if you engage in speech specifically designed to do harm, it is only libel if it is false. In England, it doesn't matter if you're shouting the truth or shouting a lie, if it's inconvenient to the status quo, it's illegal.

      • This is false. In England and Wales it is a complete defence to show that the defamatory imputation is substantially true.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2011 @12:50AM (#37787950)

    The members of this parliamentary committee are pedophiles.

    Sincerely,

    -Anonymous

    P.S.: Oops, sorry. I meant "pædophiles."

  • Chilling?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Friday October 21, 2011 @01:15AM (#37788018) Homepage Journal

    Oh yes, the right to anonymously slander and libel people is such an important right, taking that away would be chilling.

    All the proposal says is that if you run a site, you'd better be willing to moderate the anonymous trolls unless you want to be accused of libel. And to be fair, if an anonymous libel is posted on your site, it's hard to see who's legally liable but yourself when you let it stand.

    Really, whining that this is an affront to free speech is missing the point. A right is a right as long as it doesn't infringe on others' rights. Free speech ends at libel and slander.

    • Re:Chilling?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Friday October 21, 2011 @01:37AM (#37788112)

      Free speech ends at libel and slander.

      You have a human right to anonymously post true information. The problem is that this comes into conflict, not with libel laws, but with their enforcement: Someone whose identity is unknown cannot defend themselves against a charge of libel. So we have a problem: If we force the anonymous poster to reveal his identity in order to defend the truth of his statements, there is no longer the ability to have truthful anonymous speech -- anyone can make the accusation and force the poster to choose between the ability to be anonymous and the ability to communicate. But if we allow the post to stand because of that, you have something that is potentially libelous (but not proven to be in an adversary proceeding), which continues to be available.

      Now if you throw in the fact that a post by someone anonymous will have extremely low credibility unless it can be independently verified, which mitigates the damage done by a potentially libelous statement, it weighs strongly in favor of protecting anonymous speech at the expense of people having to grow thicker skin.

      • by N1AK (864906)
        If someone posts anonymous notes to all of someone else's neighbours saying that they were forced to leave their last home because they abused the local children I believe that this should be illegal and efforts should be made to discover who did it. If they did the same thing via email, my view would not change. If they did the same thing on a local community forum, again I see no reason to treat this differently.

        Anonymity on the internet has provided immeasurable benefit and I to am sad to think that i
        • Your example shows how laws of the proposed kind create the worst combination of outcomes: If someone posts something like that, by the time the target reads it, hires a lawyer and gets the court to remove it, most of the damage is done. Everybody has read it already. Having the ISP reveal that it was posted at some public library will not bring anyone to justice.

          Now imagine if the same statement is made, but it is true. The dangerous child abusing criminal makes an accusation of libel and the poster is afr

      • by digitig (1056110)

        You have a human right to anonymously post true information.

        Who says? I don't remember that clause in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)

          You have a human right to anonymously post true information.

          Who says? I don't remember that clause in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

          It was covered in Inalienable Ethics 101 at Starfleet Academy. You were probably out scoring some Green Orion Slave Girl poon tang at the time.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          You have a human right to anonymously post true information.

          Who says? I don't remember that clause in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

          No declaration of human rights is intended to be exhaustive, so its lack of inclusion in a particular document so irrelevant as to make its mention disingenuous. Don't just be using your time here to say something clever, say something true or let the adults use this website.

          You either believe in the truth or you don't, but the right to free speech is one of the most important that you can possibly have. And without anonymity, there is no free speech. Therefore, anonymity must be considered a basic human ri

          • by digitig (1056110)
            You clearly have a very naive view of free speech. Presumably you think the libel laws are already a breach of your right to free speech. Anyway, anonymity is not a pre-requisite of free speech, and there is no human right to the internet, so the idea that there is a human right to anonymity on the internet is a nonsense.
      • by UpnAtom (551727)

        anyone can make the accusation and force the poster to choose between the ability to be anonymous and the ability to communicate.

        No, only the defamed can, and their complaint must be made public. Though it will be up to the webmaster to protect their anonymous users against spurious complaints.

        • No, only the defamed can

          See, that's the whole problem. It isn't "the defamed" who can make the accusation, it's someone who alleges they were harmed by an untrue statement. Which is in general to say, anyone with an incentive to make the information go away. Especially if they expect that the poster will be afraid of them and won't defend the truth of the statement if it means revealing their identity.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        You have a human right to anonymously post true information.

        Yes, in exactly the same way that you have a human right to anonymously post false information, i.e. not at all.

        The right to free speech does not mean the right to say what you like without consequences, and anyone who thinks it does is missing the point.

        We have libel laws as a more civilised alternative to the "natural human right" to go and kick the shit out of/cut the throat of someone who tells malicious lies about you.

    • A right is a right as long as it doesn't infringe on others' rights.

      You mean like the right to not be offended, the right to not have other people make others not like you using speech, or the right to not have your imaginary reputation ruined by someone? I don't care much for those "rights." How about not being an idiot (as defined by me) by believing everything that you hear?

      And it is possible for something to be a right even if doing it means infringing on other peoples' rights. I see no reason that it wouldn't be. You might not like it, but I don't see why it's impossib

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        And it is possible for something to be a right even if doing it means infringing on other peoples' rights. I see no reason that it wouldn't be. You might not like it, but I don't see why it's impossible.

        No, once you infringe on my rights, I am going to do something about it, regardless of the law or your precious free speech. If you walk around outside my house with a placard saying I'm a paedophile, you're going to get the pole rammed up your arse. So you should be grateful we have libel laws and a legal system instead.

        One grows tired of saying this, but there are no universal eternal rights, and no such thing as freedom without responsibility.

        • No, once you infringe on my rights, I am going to do something about it, regardless of the law or your precious free speech.

          That's fine. And then you can deal with the consequences (if there are any, and that's assuming that there are no restrictions on free speech).

          So you should be grateful we have libel laws and a legal system instead.

          But I'm not.

          but there are no universal eternal rights

          I agree.

          and no such thing as freedom without responsibility.

          I wouldn't call it freedom if the government punishes for exercising it.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Oh yes, the right to anonymously slander and libel people is such an important right, taking that away would be chilling.

      Actually, the real chilling effect is the inability of the legal system to quickly settle false, frivolous and trivial claims without costing both parties a fortune. The problem is not the law itself, but the ability of people with money and full-time legal teams to bludgeon people into submission with dubious claims and the threat of expensive court proceedings. Yes, trolls clearly accusing someone of criminality - especially something sensitive - deserve what they get, but if A. Celeb tries to sue you

    • So I guess youtube is about to receive over a million lawsuits
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Oh yes, the right to anonymously slander and libel people is such an important right, taking that away would be chilling.

      The problem is that in England, the truth is not a defense. Here you can say it if it's true. There, you can only say it if they let you. This was bound to happen there eventually. It'll probably happen here eventually too, but we won't have any illusions about what it means.

      Really, whining that this is an affront to free speech is missing the point. A right is a right as long as it doesn't infringe on others' rights. Free speech ends at libel and slander.

      The problem with your sophomoric idea about this issue is that it lacks depth. Libel and slander are indistinguishable from unproven allegations. Outlaw things that might be libel and slander, and you prevent important speech. Meanwhile

  • "You're a pedophile and hurt small chidren!"

    "Got any proof of that?"

    "Ur, no. But you still are!"

    "Okay then. No harm done. You just proved yourself to be an idiot, yes?"

    "Uhh ..."

    • by julesh (229690)

      "You're a pedophile and hurt small chidren!"

      "Got any proof of that?"

      "Ur, no. But you still are!"

      "Okay then. No harm done. You just proved yourself to be a former editor of a recently defunct tabloid newspaper [wikipedia.org] , yes?"

      "Uhh ..."

      FTFY.

    • Re:Libel & slander (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435) on Friday October 21, 2011 @02:34AM (#37788320)

      "You're a pedophile and hurt small chidren!"

      "Got any proof of that?"

      "Ur, no. But you still are!"

      "Okay then. No harm done. You just proved yourself to be an idiot, yes?"

      "Uhh ..."

      Random person on the street:
      "tqk is a pedo who hurts small children".

      Headline in the Daily Fail:
      Mr tqk is a known Paedophile who has done great harm to a great number of children.

      Both are lies to be sure but one has the potential to destroy your life the other will be dismissed as insane ramblings.

      If your name connected to an accusation of paedophilia is published by a large publisher with readership in the millions would you not be upset. Further more would you not want the publisher punished for this? Libel laws grew to their woeful state because certain publishers began to lie in their headlines to influence the public. When an organisation has the ability to influence what a large number of people think, should they not be held responsible for what they say. It's the old "fire in a crowded theatre" argument, sure, you can yell fire in a crowded theatre but you'll be charged for it because you knew what you were doing was wrong yet did it deliberately.

      Libel laws were created to add responsibility to speech, not to take away free speech. They are still needed for this purpose. Exactly how they should fulfil that purpose is a matter of some debate.

      • Libel laws were created to add responsibility to speech, not to take away free speech.

        I don't care if you agree with libel laws, but it is restricting speech (at least some type of speech). What else is it doing? You're punished in some way (with the help of the government and its laws) for your speech. I don't think that's how free speech works.

        • by delinear (991444)
          The truth is always an absolute defence to a claim of libel or slander. Historically laws/constitutions that protect free speech aren't usually intended to protect known lies.
        • by Tim C (15259)
          Yes it is restricting free speech, but on the other hand you have that whole "pursuit of happiness" thing - that's incompatible with (for example) people being allowed to publicly defame you and incite people to ostracise you (or even attack you, if the claims are bad enough). When two rights potentially conflict like that, one or other of them has to be restricted in the conflicting case(s).
          • "Pursuit of happiness" is pretty vague, I think. I don't really agree with it, but I guess in this instance society has decided to limit speech in favor of the "pursuit of happiness."

            • It is "PURSUIT of happiness"; not "HAPPINESS".

              There is a difference. You have a right to pursue being happy. Government is not going to protect your right to be happy.

              The two are more different than they appear at first glance.

              • The two are more different than they appear at first glance.

                It's not much different when we're talking about this. Either way, just about anything could stop someone from pursuing "happiness" since the definition of "happiness" varies from person to person. That is why I said that it was vague.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Libel laws were created to add responsibility to speech, not to take away free speech.

          I don't care if you agree with libel laws, but it is restricting speech (at least some type of speech). What else is it doing? You're punished in some way (with the help of the government and its laws) for your speech. I don't think that's how free speech works.

          Then you don't know what free speech means. Free speech means that the government/whoever can't stop you from publishing something. It does not that mean nobody is allowed to react adversely to what you say and that you can say whatever you like without any consequences.

          If you started a written campaign calling me a child murderer and there was no law of libel, my only alternative would be to come round and either torture a retraction out of you, or simply cut your throat. I know which method seems mo

          • It does not that mean nobody is allowed to react adversely to what you say and that you can say whatever you like without any consequences.

            I didn't say that that is what it meant. I said that if the law enables someone to silence you, then I do not believe that you truly have free speech.

            If you started a written campaign calling me a child murderer and there was no law of libel, my only alternative would be to come round and either torture a retraction out of you, or simply cut your throat.

            You could also ignore it, ask me to retract the statements, or go on a campaign on your own (which would have about the same effect as cutting my throat in that it changes nothing).

      • by tqk (413719)

        "You're a pedophile and hurt small chidren!"

        "Got any proof of that?"

        "Ur, no. But you still are!"

        "Okay then. No harm done. You just proved yourself to be an idiot, yes?"

        "Uhh ..."

        Random person on the street:
        "tqk is a pedo who hurts small children".

        Headline in the Daily Fail:
        Mr tqk is a known Paedophile who has done great harm to a great number of children.

        Both are lies to be sure but one has the potential to destroy your life the other will be dismissed as insane ramblings.

        If your name connected to an accusation of paedophilia is published by a large publisher with readership in the millions would you not be upset.

        I see your point, but then again, "Ah, BS, it's the Daily Fail! They're never credible, FFS! You can't believe a word of what they write."

        Then again, some people do believe the most preposterous things on zero evidence. !@#$

        Personally, I'd prefer to just point people at my record proving my innocence, which will prove my accusers to be fools in the eyes of the world.

        Realistically, though, lots of people won't bother with the facts and I'll end up getting the !@#$ kicked out of me, or worse. However, I d

      • by timbo234 (833667)

        The problem with all libel laws is that they don't stop this kind of abuse. The Daily Mail and others in Britain take the rare libel cases as a cost of doing business and continue printing bullshit. The libel cases against them are rare because it costs tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds to bring a case, effectively restricting usage of these laws to a fraction of 1% of the population.

  • Could it be? And if so.. what is exactly being enforced. Things like this are so gray.

    Suppose anonymous posting were illegal in the UK. Then suppose I called up a friend in the US, where it is not illegal. I said to him, "Hey, go to this site with your anonymous account, and post this: 'I saw John Graham smoking a big fat dooby"? Would it be illegal for me to call my friend and request this? Maybe that still counts as slander... I mean, unless it were true.

    Suppose I post on a website with my full nam

    • by digitig (1056110)

      Could it be? And if so.. what is exactly being enforced. Things like this are so gray.

      Suppose anonymous posting were illegal in the UK. Then suppose I called up a friend in the US, where it is not illegal. I said to him, "Hey, go to this site with your anonymous account, and post this: 'I saw John Graham smoking a big fat dooby"? Would it be illegal for me to call my friend and request this? Maybe that still counts as slander... I mean, unless it were true.

      Suppose I post on a website with my full name, but that website decides one day to anonymize all posts? Maybe by simply removing the user name for aesthetic reasons. Is it my responsibility to know this and withdraw the post?

      Then we get into the question of "what does it mean to post". Suppose I visit a search engine that shows all recent searches in real time. Then, I search for "Jonathan Graham is a monkey humper".... I was just searching after all. Was that a post?

      I know this is /. so nobody reads the articles, but you might at least read the summary. Nobody is proposing making anonymous posting illegal.

  • when everyone's afraid of being prosecuted for libel when they visit your country.

  • Isn't that a pretty weak standard to fall back on for something like this?

    I mean, where's the requirement that it actually *BE* libel?

    It could be a completely true statement...It could be just some random post that somebody disagrees with... and have no bearing on truth or falsehood at all... all somebody has to assert is that it contains libel, and by law the post would have to be removed.

    "If someone complains"... what a completely ignorant standard.

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