Irish Court says Facebook doesn't have to filter posts

POSTED BY Rick Shera
13 February 2013

posted in l@w.geek.nz | Cloud | cybersafety | Social Media | The Low Down

VIEWED 5609 TIMES

PERMALINK

It's good to see Courts in various jurisdictions getting it.  They understand that it is practically impossible and legally unjustified to try to impose on online service providers a duty to filter or otherwise proactively monitor content as it is uploaded and shared.

The High Court of Justice In Northern Ireland gets it.

In a case (XY v Facebook Ireland) involving illegal online harrassment, the Court granted an application requiring Facebook to remove specified offending content (which Facebook effectively had already done).  However, the Court then strongly rejected a further application which would have required Facebook to actively monitor and prevent publication of any similarly offending content in the future (in other words, to filter).

It is worth quoting the Court's reasons for that rejection (from para 20):

I refuse the Plaintiff's application for the wider form of interim injunction sought by him. This was to the effect that Facebook be required to monitor the offending webpage in order to prevent republication of the offensive material. In this respect, I prefer the argument of Mr Hopkins that such an order would lack the requisite precision, could impose a disproportionate burden and, further, would potentially require excessive supervision by the Court.

That last reason, that such orders require excessive supervision by the Court, is important.  It recognises that the legal and factual analysis required of a service provider in deciding whether to take down material or disable access is very complex, even if it could technically implement any proactive filter. 

The Court recognises that complexity will inevitably lead to uncertainty and disagreement as to whether and when the service provider should act, which in turn would require constant, "excessive",  recourse to the Court.

Here the Court was dealing with what appear from the judgment to be fairly obviously illegal posts.  On that basis, expecting a service provider to proactively filter on even more complex copyright questions involving originality, ownership, fair dealing (fair use) or the like, let alone taking into account privacy issues, must be out of the question.

POSTED BY Rick Shera
13 February 2013

posted in l@w.geek.nzCloudcybersafetySocial MediaThe Low Down

VIEWED 5609 TIMES

PERMALINK

COMMENTS (0) Post a Comment

Authorisation Code:*
To prove you're human, please type the code in the grey box into the white box. The code is case-sensitive. If you can't read the code, click on the grey box to see a new code.

← BACK TO NEWS