Anonymity in Cyberspace Takes a Hit

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld an Estonian court’s decision to hold the local news site, Delfi AS, liable for comments posted anonymously in response to a published story.  Effectively, ECHR found that attaching such liability to the news site did not violate its right to freedom of expression, Paid Content reports.

udgment Delfi AS v. Estonia  making an online news site liable for its readers comments was justifie_Page_1

In 2006, Delfi published a story about the changing routes of a local ferry firm–a schedule alteration that delayed the opening of new roads to nearby islands.  Readers responded anonymously expressing their outrage in writing by posting public comments on the site.  Some such comments were specifically aimed at the ferry firm.  The firm sued Delfi and won, notwithstanding Delfi’s disclaimer that commenters were liable for their own expressions, according to Paid Content.

Of its decision, the ECHR said:

Making Delfi legally responsible for the comments was therefore practical [in light of the anonymous nature of the comments]; but it was also reasonable because the news portal received commercial benefit from comments being made.

Of course, this raises substantial concern over the future of anonymity in cyberspace.  As one news outlet responded:

It is difficult to see how any site would allow anonymous comments if this ruling stands as precedent.

 

It’s all a bit “chilling,” isn’t it?

Share:

Tags: ,

Authors

Untitled Document
Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic.Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

is 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

Categories