New Laws Will Make Websites Responsible for Vile Messages Unless They Reveal Identities of Bullies

James Black, Daily Mail (London), June 12, 2012

Cowardly internet ‘trolls’ who post vile abuse on Facebook and Twitter will be identified to their victims under laws unveiled today.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarkey wants to strip away the cloak of anonymity which shields website users who peddle lies and vicious smears.

Internet companies will be expected to agree to rules over how to deal with libellous comments posted on their sites.

They will be told that – provided they agree to hand over the identity of the abuser to their victim – the internet company itself will be protected from legal action by the victim of abuse.

If they refuse, however, they could be hauled before the courts and fined thousands of pounds for the hateful comments, even though they were made by a visitor to their website.

Officials believe the prospect of protection from a defamation case will be enough of a ‘carrot’ for the likes of Twitter and Facebook to agree to the new regime.

It will finally help to bring to an end the injustice of victims being subject to sickening online abuse – often from those they have never met – with little chance of finding out who is responsible.

In future, they will be able to use the names and email addresses of their tormentors to bring a prosecution for libel.

There have been a string of cases of ‘trolls’ posting lies – such as making accusations of paedophilia – on social networking sites.

Last night, Mr Clarke said: ‘As the law stands, individuals can be the subject of scurrilous rumour and allegation on the web with little meaningful remedy against the person responsible.

‘Website operators are in principle liable as publishers for everything that appears on their sites, even though the content is often determined by users.

‘But most operators are not in a position to know whether the material posted is defamatory or not and very often, faced with a complaint, they will immediately remove material.

‘Our proposed approach will mean that website operators have a defence against libel as long as they identify the authors of allegedly defamatory material when requested to do so by a complainant.’

The proposals are included in the Defamation Bill, which will be debated by MPs today.

The new powers will be balanced by proposals to stop people falsely claiming critical articles are defamatory simply to get them removed.

A one-year time limit is also being introduced to stop old articles triggering new libel claims.
Another of the issues facing the new legislation is how to identify internet users who leave abuse by using a shared computer, such as in an internet cafe.

Last week, a mother who was sent death threats by so-called internet ‘trolls’ won a landmark legal case against Facebook.

Nicola Brookes was tormented for months by anonymous bullies after she left an innocent message of support for an X Factor contestant on the social networking site.

She went to police to make a complaint but claimed officers told her to go home. But the 45-year-old refused to give up and, on Friday, won a court order forcing Facebook to identify the identities of the trolls. She now hopes to bring a private prosecution against them.

The benefit of the planned law change is that a victim will no longer have to spend large sums of money dragging the case to court.

Instead, they will be able to obtain their accuser’s identity direct from the website hosting their remarks. An internet company that refuses to co-operate can still be dragged to court to reveal the details.

In the case of Mrs Brookes, the information disclosed included the bullies’ names, email addresses and their computers’ internet protocol addresses, which can be used to determine a computer’s location.

Mr Clarke said: ‘The Government wants a libel regime for the internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations but also ensures information online can’t be easily censored by casual threats of litigation against website operators.

‘It will be very important to ensure that these measures do not inadvertently expose genuine whistleblowers, and we are committed to getting the detail right to minimise this risk.’

The overall aim of the Defamation Bill is to end ‘libel tourism’ and protect free speech. In recent years London has become the libel capital of the world.

Critics say this is because regulations favour claimants and that the very high costs involved in defending a claim mean many publications are forced to settle out of court, even when they believe what they published was true.

In an attempt to end trivial claims, future claimants will have to show that material has caused them ‘serious harm’. And those from outside the EU will face new hurdles before they can bring a claim in London.

Journalists will also be allowed a defence against defamation where they can show the material is in the public interest.

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  • …and yet it still moves!

    In all governments, dissent must be suppressed in order to maintain control.  Thus they must police people’s words and pressure dissenters into silence.

    The free speech capability of the internt is blasting apart lie after lie and they can’t handle it.

    Under the guise of anti-bullying, they will ban many truths that interfere with the control of their subjects.

    This is no different from hate speech laws that make criminals out of historic or genetic researchers who’s crime is wanting to know all of the truth.

    Welcome to the new Dark Ages!

    • Problem with Jared Taylor of Amren is that he wants to fight Political Correctness, but himself is politically correct.

      Who is behind endless wars, endless bailouts, endless mass 3rd world invasion, endless indoctrination, endless growth in debt and government?  How can Whites answer these questions unless they are honest about who their primal enemies are.

      Blacks, Hispanics and Asians are just foot soldiers. But Which ethnic group is leading this anti-white coalition? 

      Why does Jared Taylor ban such discussions?  Does he really believe he can get far by suppressing real debate?

  • We’re really enjoying the “Wild West” days of the Internet. It won’t always be like this. Everything is better without government attached, and as soon as all the suited freaks get their tentacles into everything, the web will be as exciting as Budapest on a Monday night.

  • mikejones91

    What if the comment is THE TRUTH. Just void of PC. They say this will hopefully deter people from smearing lies. Who is to be the judge of what is truth?

    • The__Bobster

      In that case, the truth is no defense.

  • Oil Can Harry

    There is NO reason to outlaw anonymous internet trolls posting libel because they have zero credibility; if someone posts a comment claiming Obama is a cross-dresser or Mitt Romney is a serial killer they’ll be ridiculed or ignored.

    This is just an excuse for a police state crackdown on free speech. 

  • Holin

    Why do so many people make this difficult?

    Want to Stop Hate?

    SEGREGATE

    • mikejones91

      “Don’t hate, segregate”. Me–last week, I think.

  • splitsing

    I can’t help but laugh at the idiotic British politicians and their pandering PC politics.  The Brits deserve every bit of what they get for electing them and then allowing the brown horde to flow into their country.  Old Blighty is dying a very slow, painful, brown death.

  • loyalwhitebriton

    Internet trolls can be insulting and even downright malicious, that’s a given.
    However, I’m always sceptical when government seeks to repress any kind of speech.
    You know what politicians are like. Most of them are intolerant sociopaths, that’s also a given.
    Where will it end? Will one be considered a “Troll” if one says “I don’t believe in third world immigration or multiculturalism”?
    Never underestimate the ingeniousness of politicians to turn a seemingly benign piece of legislation into an instrument of totalitarian control.
    The USSR and the EU are proof enough of that. 

    • Screamin_Ruffed_Grouse

      You consider extorting information- under threat of prosecution- for the purposes of locating and prosecuting people for saying things of which the government disapproves “benign?” Our definitions differ.

      • loyalwhitebriton

        I was generally speaking when I said “Benign”, but it would have been better if I had used the word “Any”. Thanks for pointing out how my comment could be misconstrued, and I have edited my comment accordingly.

  • Comments below have hit on the major concerns.  I would observe that something like this will probably work against whites . . . but it can also work for them if used appropriately.  For example, it can be used to prosecute loud-mouth “lover-boy” coloreds who harass white women.

    The real threat to our freedom isn’t from laws . . . it’s from judges who rule on the extent and coverage of laws.  As long as this is administered fairly, we will have no problem.

    But when does  “fair” every apply to whites when coloreds are involved?

    Concerned Chimpmaster

  • JackKrak

    Who sees a troll online and thinks “I wish the government would do something about this”?????

    Oh, yeah – the same people whose heads would explode if they ever saw AmRen….

  • Sheila Dinehart

    nothing said can be unsaid

    nothing done can be undone 

  • blindsticks

    Not  one  of these hate trolls so far have been investigated or pulled in.Not one. Though some of the worst  of them were  reported to the police  at the time.

     
    Is Emma West A Victim Of A Twitter Hunt? Tweeters Want My …EMMA West, 34, of New Addington, has been changed with a racially-aggravated public order offence for her racist rant on the Croydon-to-Wimbledon Tramlink route …www.anorak.co.uk/303424/

    news/is-emma-​west-a-victim-of… – CachedCroydon Tube Bigot Emma West Supported In Court By BNP’s …EMMA West, the New Addington mum filmed racially abusing fellow passengers on a Croydon tram – and then subjected to a Twitter Hunt by tolerant types who want to …www.anorak.co.uk/…bigot-emma-west-​supported-in-court-by… – Cached

    Immigrants liberals Call for Emma West My Tram Expericence to …http://www.anorak.co.uk/303424/news/is-emma-west-a-victim-of-twitter-hunt-tweeters-want-my-tram-experience-woman-raped-shot-and-knifed.html/ click on link …birthtourism.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/​immigrants… – Cached

  • Freedom of Speech, an Englishman’s greatest weapon. Even in jest, or as a means to avoid physical violence, it still should be free.

    What of the old adage about ‘sticks and stones’? Oh, sorry. Some overly emotional woman can’t ‘take it like a man’ and desires the nanny state to make life ‘fair.’ Sorry, Life is not fair, ducks. Get over it. And stop wasting precious time in law courts, solicitor’s offices, etc. Freedom of Speech.Killed by Orwellian stooges, one fiat legislative act at a time.And who says the NWO isn’t about TOTAL CONTROL?Misericordie, Domine.