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Freedom of expression online – hate speech targeted at the individual and website administrators’ liability

The internet and social media have enabled everyone to express themselves quickly and globally and in a novel way. In addition to useful and entertaining activities, social media is also used as a tool for bullying, intimidation, and insults. In the internet, disinformation and insults can be more harmful than if presented in some other way: they have a larger impact, are spread wide, and are available for a longer time. It can also be impossible to correct or reply to wrong statements.

This study examines hate speech against the individual from the perspectives of freedom of expression and the right to private life. The aim of this article is to establish what kind of protection the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) offers against publishing offensive content about someone online. The focus is on the criteria which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has laid down in some of its recent cases when defining the scope of liability of online content service providers. The question to answer is: under what conditions is the administrator of a website liable for offensive content posted by a third party? The conclusion is that, so far, the administrator of a website has been liable only in exceptional circumstances. And there are good reasons for this, since freedom of expression could be jeopardized if private actors were to act as censors. The criteria that have been especially significant when evaluating liability have ranged from the extreme nature of comments, the fact that comments were posted in reaction to an article published by the applicant company on its professionally managed news portal run on a commercial basis, and the insufficiency of measures taken by the applicant company to remove offending comments.
Julkaisun otsikon käännösFreedom of expression online - hate speech targeted at the individual and website administrators liability
TilaJulkaistu - 20 joulukuuta 2019
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä, vertaisarvioitu


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