Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

UK - Pre-trial High Court ruling ecognises ISP liabi

5. Content of Internet and audio-visual and information services

5.1. UK - Pre-trial High Court ruling recognises ISP liability for third party content

On 26 March 1999, a pre-trial court ruling by Mr Justice Morland in London's High Court held a leading UK Internet Service Provider liable for a defamatory third-party opinion expressed in a discussion forum hosted by its servers. The ISP announced it will appeal against this ruling, claiming that the posting was made by an unknown individual in the US participating in a discussion group and not by one of its customers. The ruling, if not reversed on appeal, might have a widespread impact on the whole on-line industry. In fact, it could lead to Internet Service Providers being charged with responsibility for monitoring millions of personal opinions carried over their servers. This decision highlights the contentious area of liability for publication and opens up the debate on free speech and censorship of content.

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