Websites responsible for hate speech

THE ADMINISTRATORS of websites will be threatened with fines for insults and accusations in internet discussions. 

(Source: SME)

This stems from the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, which delivered the verdict in the dispute between the Delfi AS company and Estonia. The administrator of the Delfi AS website was found responsible for the content of the discussion under an article where the owner of a public ferry transport firm was insulted, because it had not altered it, thus it has to pay a fine. The ruling has become a precedent for 47 members of the Council of Europe, the Sme daily reported.

“It is a severe decision,” lawyer Tomáš Kamenec told Sme. “I expect there would be no discussions under the stories.”

The court will use this precedent in all similar cases that will occur in Slovakia in the future. Analysts predict that the ruling will lead to auto-censorship of the media though the laws will not be changed. The current valid laws stipulate that the websites are not responsible for everything said in discussions. The problem would however appear if somebody points to the problem and the administrator would not deal with it, Kamenec explained to Sme.

Since based on the precedent the media will be fully responsible for the content of the discussions, he predicts that they will stop them completely. He also warns against possible abuse of the precedent.

Also media analyst Miroslava Kernová, who leads the Omediach.com website, considers the ruling bad news for media and its readers.

“Everybody should be responsible for his or her statements, and this responsibility cannot be moved to media,” she told Sme, adding that media do not have capacity to keep an eye on every contribution to the discussion.

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