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New Guidelines on Social Media Prosecutions

Following criticism of a number of recent arrests and prosecutions relating to postings on social media sites, the Director of Public Prosecutions  has published new draft guidelines. These confirm that postings that break criminal laws on threats, harassment and breaching court orders should generally be “prosecuted robustly” under the specific legislation for those crimes. When […]

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Defamation Bill – Committee Discusses Moderation

One of the perverse effects of the current law on liability of website operators is that it discourages sites from checking comments and posts provided by others. Instead the law encourages the operator to do nothing until they receive a complaint. Earlier this week the House of Commons Select Committee considered whether an amendment was […]

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Defamation Bill Second Reading

The Defamation Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Most of the MPs who talked about the new defences for website operators (clause 5 of the Bill) seemed to appreciate the complex balance between protecting reputation and protecting free speech, and agreed with the Justice Secretary: our current libel regime […]

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Defamation Bill – Hints at Definitions and Processes

The 21st June sitting of the Commons Defamation Bill Committee provided some hints at answers to my questions about the Bill’s definitions and process. On the question of who will be a “website operator”, able to benefit from the new defences, the Minister suggested this should be left to the courts, who can adapt to […]

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Consultations

Defamation Bill – Joint Committee on Human Rights

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has asked for evidence on the Defamation Bill, so I’ve sent in a Janet submission pointing out the human rights issues that could be raised by the Bill. Although the aims of the provisions on websites are to increase the protection of free speech while ensuring that genuinely defamatory […]

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Defamation Bill – New Options for Websites?

Under current defamation law, if a website wants to avoid all risk of liability for material posted by third parties then its best approach is to not moderate postings when they are made, and remove them promptly when any complaint is made. As I’ve pointed out in various responses to consultations (and as now seems […]

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Articles

New Defamation Bill – first thoughts

The new Defamation Bill promised in the Queen’s Speech has now been published. Although it also contains changes to what statements can give rise to liability for defamation, the most interesting part for network operators is likely to be the new provisions on liability for those who host third party content on web sites and […]

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Human Rights Committee report on Defamation Bill

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published its conclusions on the Defamation Bill. Among other changes the Bill intends to clarify the position of websites that accept posts from third parties and make it less likely that lawful posts will be removed because of fear of liability. The Committee are “glad to see steps […]

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Communications Data Bill Committee report

The Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Bill has published its report, concluding that while there is “a case for legislation which will provide the law enforcement agencies with some further access to communications data” the current proposal needs “substantial re-writing”. The Committee address three of the four concerns raised in our Janet evidence. They […]

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Articles

Cloud Incident Response and Security

Cloud computing was the theme of the day at the FIRST conference, with talks on security and incident response both concluding that we may need to re-learn old techniques. The adoption of at least some form of “cloud” seems to be inevitable, so we need to understand how to do this with an acceptable level […]