Bad news for free speech? Well, yes it is. Vox Political is moderated because it receives a relatively small number of comments (in comparison with the mass media newspapers and TV news websites) and most of those are perfectly reasonable. The only reason I moderate before allowing comments on is because of one or two people who abused the system a few months ago. Obviously, any site getting hundreds of comments every day cannot do this so the logical response is to shut down their comment columns and refuse the right of reply altogether – all-out censorship. This is not an ideal solution.
I am not one of those people who is by nature anti the European Court of Human Rights but a judgement reported on the authoritative Inforrm blog has made my blood boil.
Judges have made the extraordinary decision to hold news sites and blogs legally responsible for all the comments put up on their site even if they take them down after a complaint.
Effectively it means that any offended party can pursue a news organisation or blog for any defamatory comment made about them EVEN after it has been removed from the website.
The ruling follows a dispute after a said to be respected Estonian news organisation,Delfi,ran a piece about a ferry company making controversial changes to its routes. The changes to remote Estonian islands attracted widespread criticism including an attack on their owners from anonymous bloggers who put comments on the site. A major shareholder in the…
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