New Law to Force Identification of Trolls Set to be Unveiled
I wrote last week about a case reaching its conclusion in Britain where a court is to force Facebook to reveal the identity of several trolls that created fake accounts on the website and abused a woman.
Today the BBC reveal that new government proposals will see this enshrined in law shortly.
The proposals suggest that victims of cyber bullying have a right to know who is behind the attacks on them online without having to resort to expensive legal action.
The case last week saw Facebook hand over the email and IP addresses of several people that had abused Nicola Brookes on the website after she had posted a message on her wall in support of a contestant in a TV talent show.
The new powers, to be added to the Defamation Bill, will make this process far less time-consuming and costly, the government said.
The current law is ill suited to cases such as this, with each new visit to a defamatory post regarded as a separate offense. This inevitably encourages website owners to remove content called into question as quickly as possible.
"Website operators are in principle liable as publishers for everything that appears on their sites, even though the content is often determined by users," said Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.
Providing websites comply with the requests it should make them less liable to being sued by unhappy users.
"Our proposed approach will mean that website operators have a defense against libel as long as they identify the authors of allegedly defamatory material when requested to do so by a complainant." Clarke continues.
Clarke wants the new law to end the apparent culture of immunity that he says exists online, whereby people can post what they want behind a username without fear of prosecution.
"The government wants a libel regime for the internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations effectively but also ensures that 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 minimize this risk."