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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Should there be free speech on the internet?

A UK internet service provider has paid 15,000 plus legal costs to a man who says he was defamed by messages which appeared on newsgroups.

Laurence Godfrey had claimed that Demon Internet failed to remove the offending messages from web pages it was hosting.

It was the first case of its kind in English law, reigniting the debate about who is responsible for content on the internet.

Should the world wide web be an open forum for absolute freedom of speech? Or should rules be imposed?


Your reaction



The right to free speech is an absolute birthright in a democracy.

Rod Mansell, England
OK. I've asked the question before... I'll ask it again: When did we become a police state? The right to free speech is an absolute birthright in a democracy. The question of free 'speech' on the internet begs correction, as it's not speech at all, its usually an opinion expressed in text form, for potentially millions of people to read. Speech normally takes place between a select group of people in the form of conversation. Now review answers in light of asking the correct question.
Rod Mansell, England

It would take a matter of days for any ISP to move it's sensitive information to a country where there are no such stupid laws. I for one hope they do!
David Meagor, UK

It is time that the world realise that it's impossible to control matters such as this through the law - just the very fact that laws differ from country to country makes that very hard to do if someone defames you from a foreign country. Instead we should let these matters be self-regulating, through supplying the tools so that users can rate content wherever they go on the Internet. And search engines could supply the filters so that users can fine-tune their experience by these ratings.
Marius Jordaan, USA

Yes, of course. If there must be free speech at all why should it matter what the medium? The more pertinent question is as to who should moderate such free speech.
Kachi Okezie, United Kingdom



It's not a publisher, its a global medium of communication akin to a global consciousness - a brave new world.

Simon K, Bristol, UK
You have to be joking? Policing the internet would involve far too great a resource nightmare for any government or body to achieve it. Take the internet away from all the UK users (just try!) or allow it to be used in the any way users see fit. It's not a publisher, its a global medium of communication akin to a global consciousness - a brave new world.
Simon K, Bristol, UK

Free speech is at the heart of the modern internet, remember everybody is entitled to an opinion. Any attempt to suppress it will simply fail, with the material being placed on the internet anyway.
Martin Jackson, England

Different areas for different types of exchange. For those who want exchanges to be monitored go to a site with rules, those who don't - don't.
Perry Bhandal, UK



I simply cannot believe that Demon gave this man the time of day

Toby, UK
How totally ridiculous. There must be something else going on here that the public is not being made aware of. I simply cannot believe that Demon gave this man the time of day let alone 15,000. For all the reasons both technical and ethical, Demon could in no way be held accountable by the contents of an internet newsgroup posting. Look at it like this, if some idiot cuts you up on the road making you crash, you can't hold the government responsible for allowing him to drive on the roads in the first place!
Toby, UK

Any organisation or politician who wishes to violate freedom of speech in any way should be considered a 'threat to democracy!' We British should have something in our constitution similar to America's 'first amendment' that would protect us from any free speech violations! If the TV, radio, newspaper or any other form of media is already being dictated by government regulations, then unfortunately it would only be a matter of time before they get to the internet!
Richard, Wales

Dear World, Please ensure that the entire content of the internet is immediately removed otherwise I shall be forced to take further action! With our increasingly litigious culture and the inability of our rule-makers to appreciate the new technology there may be dark clouds ahead and even more messengers may find themselves getting shot.
Flip, UK



Malicious defamation is not a victimless crime.

Henry Case, UK
Malicious defamation is not a victimless crime. If you accept that that the writer, not the ISP, should be held responsible, then you'll have to accept the need for legislation to force ISPs to at least help trace and identify the writer. Otherwise, how can ordinary people be protected?
Henry Case, UK

The UN charter only provides 'rights' so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. If your inaccurate article/posting slanders another person and wrecks their career or life, you have absolutely infringed on their rights and must be stopped. Rights with responsibilities.
George, UK

Suing Demon is like Aitken suing his corner shop for selling the Guardian.
Themos Tsikas, UK

Yes everyone should be allowed to talk about what ever they want.
Rachael Gates, United Kingdom



Free speech is essential to democracy that cannot and should not be controlled or repressed in any way.

Benj'min Mossop, Britain
In my opinion there are two simple answers to this question which cannot be ignored:
(i) Free speech is essential to democracy that cannot and should not be controlled or repressed in any way.
(ii) It is impossible to censor the internet without unjustifiably inhibiting people's basic human rights to free speech and democracy.
Benj'min Mossop, Britain

'Free speech' should be accountable, else it is irresponsible. The web allows libel to be policed more effectively. Responsibility should lie with ISPs to attribute and authenticate public comment.
Ian Sharp, Bath, England

Yes. Society needs an avenue for free speech. With the increasing commercialisation of traditional media organisations. Only the Internet can allow people to express their true feelings, whether good or bad...and it MUST remain so, if we ever want to realise the true meaning of free speech and democracy.
Ruth, Australia

The world is full of vindictive, litigious people; this just gives them life-blood. I've had accounts shut down on AOL for disagreeing with someone politically in a newsgroup. That they can do that already proves beyond a doubt we are losing the free-speech battle in cyberspace. Let the ISP attach a disclaimer to every post. I wouldn't mind.
Jim Loughman, USA

First, there is no such thing as true free speech: People will not tolerate expression of ideas that are too threatening to their cherished model of reality. To hold Demon responsible for the messages it channels through its digital circuits is like holding Transco responsible for bringing the North Sea gas to your home which blew up because you had a defective cooker.
Jerome Whitney, UK

As I have read it, the lawsuit was *not* about the false posting, but about Demon's failing to comply with Mr Godfrey's request that the post be cancelled. Freedom of speech doesn't enter it.
Quentin Stephens, UK



An ISP can no more be held responsible for postings to its newsgroup than can the Royal Mail for the contents of letters it delivers

Melody Forrest, England
An ISP can no more be held responsible for postings to its newsgroup than can the Royal Mail for the contents of letters is delivers or the owner of a wall which gets covered in graffiti.
Melody Forrest, England

In any area, whether it be a playground at school, a public meeting, a conference or the road system, there must be rules of conduct, lest the unpleasant element of society abuse their privilege of presence and abuse others.
Ian Davies, UK

The messenger must never be shot. We want the net to be as free as possible from bureaucratic interference, by state ot otherwise. So we must get our house in order or it will be done for us, and governments usually do a bad job of most things. Suggestion: Make the libeller liable to civil action in the country from which the message was sent. Demon did us all a great dis-service, but should not have been put in that situation. If the present system prevails, put all message forums into the ownership of companies without assets, so litigation is pointless.
James Walton, UK

It appears to me that if someone were defaming me on the Internet I would stop logging onto the newsgroup. This court case seems to suggest that Dr. Godfrey is out to make a name for himself. I believe the person who was defaming him could have been dealt with by law but to take the ISP to court is absurd and threatens the free flow of information on the Internet. If he doesn't like it he shouldn't use it.
Andrew Percival, UK



Trying to control the Internet is like trying to dam a river with your hand.

ASC, US
Trying to control the Internet is like trying to dam a river with your hand. Slander, insults, pornography, etc. are a fact of life on the net for good or ill. Welcome to the 21st century.
ASC, US

Speaking from experience as a former large Demon corporate customer (while previously living in the UK) and as a network administrator. I can tell you that there IS NO RELIABLE way to remove an Internet news post from a NNTP (news) server. To remove the post would have involved EVERY server in the world pulling news feed from Demon (and all those servers sending feed to other servers) to delete the message. This is NOT possible within the specification of what NNTP was defined for. (Keep in mind that one message can easily propagate to 1000's of servers around the world in only a matter of hours) This decision clearly exhibits the lack of technological understanding within the courts and the UK government.
Nick Pandher, USA



I agree that free speech must stay, but no one can post lies without fear of prosecution

Steve, UK
I agree that free speech must stay, but no one can post lies without fear of prosecution. However do we expect an ISP to investigate each complaint to check if the content is false? This ruling means that any complaints about postings will lead to their removal for fear of litigation. So to get a post that you don't like removed, just complain. We should prosecute the authors of these posts, all the ISP's should be responsible for is to help track them down.
Steve, UK

Consider the following: Something is posted to a newsgroup which paints an individual in a bad light. They complain, and Demon (or whoever) remove the posting. Subsequently, it is shown that the posting was entirely true. Will the poster then sue Demon for removing it? Maybe the ISP should remove a posting if it is libellous, but should the ISP be the ones to decide whether it is?
Mark Rogers, UK



Any ISP must take reasonable action if notified of potentially defamatory materia

Stephen Dooley, UK
This has not changed the law and it does not allow BT or the like to be sued for the content of phone calls. Any ISP must take reasonable action if notified of potentially defamatory material. It does not have to review all postings, and if it is notified of potentially defamatory content its actions will depend on the precise circumstances of the situation. Without commenting on the case, ISP's have the right to host material freely, but individuals also have the right not to be defamed. A lot of the reaction to this case is caused by people responding to issues without looking at the facts.
Stephen Dooley, UK

Those who observe that the problem would not have arisen had Demon removed the posts on request are missing the point. For Demon to do so, it would have to have decided whether the material concerned actually was defamatory, that the material should be removed as a result, and then actually remove it-in other words, to act as judge, jury and executioner. That responsibility should not under any circumstances be given to any non-judiciary organisation much less forced upon one. That's the job of an unbiased, forward-thinking and democratically-minded judiciary. Sadly, we don't seem to have one of those in the UK.
Sumit, UK

The internet is just another publishing medium. Of course it should be subject to the same type of regulation as any other.
Neil Hoskins, UK

A couple of points of clarification. This case does not involve the Web. The defamatory material was posted on Usenet ('newsgroups') - a part of the internet which predates the Web by some 20 years. By the same token, this was not a 'chatroom'. Furthermore, the way Usenet works is that posts are 'propagated' from the server where they were made to ALL other servers across the world which carry that Newsgroup. The original post was apparently made from a server in Canada. Demon were simply a relay.

Not only could Demon not remove the post from any server other than their own (i.e. remove it from the whole Internet), even if they removed it from their own servers it would have reappeared in very short order.

So all Demon could have actually done is to remove the post temporarily at Dr Godfrey's request from one of tens of thousands of sources, and shortly thereafter it would be propagated back to them, and in any case be available across the world. This system was after all designed to withstand World War 3. All of which does not of course make defamation acceptable.
Mike Blumenthal, UK

Libel laws do not take account of the nature of the Internet. Newspapers, radio and TV programmes, and other conventional media are directly controlled by those who provide the service, i.e. the publishers. ISPs provide a service which gives the ordinary individual the ability to publish their view in a world-wide medium. Therefore in this sense in ISP is not the publisher, and any libel cases should be brought against the individual who put the material on the Internet.
John Kearney, UK

Traditional media can and do defend themselves against libel action. However, if an ISP receives a complaint about a posting, which is factually accurate, do they investigate carefully and stand up for their customer? Of course not! They remove the content without question for fear of fighting a law suit. This precedent makes it easy for anyone to censor the views of someone who criticises them in any way, justly or otherwise.
Alex, UK

Free speech should always be the rule. I'll strongly defend ANYBODY'S right to say what they want. I may totally disagree with what they have to say, but they should always have the right to say it. Doesn't matter who it is or what they say. If it harms another, then it is not the ISP who is responsible. That is unless we create a universal Thought Police Unit. They can police our thoughts and tell us the right way to think. Fact is, I nominate President Clinton to head up the organisation as he will be out of a job in a few months.
Greg Lambert, USA

I am in favour of not libelling people, but how different is an I S P from, say the Post, or B T. They are not charged when people misuse them. How can the I S P's monitor every site?
Adrienne Franklin, England

I was a regular poster to newsgroups at the time that Dr Godfrey was being libelled. It was perfectly clear at that time that this was not a random or isolated event, but a concerted campaign to try to intimidate Dr Godfrey out of posting opinions that some people didn't like. He has done every poster a huge favour by pursuing this case and showing that posters cannot be libelled with complete immunity in the name of free speech. The libels uttered against Dr Godfrey were a clear attempt to suppress free speech, not to enhance it.
Jon Livesey, USA

For at least the past decade, the British Government has been following a policy of naming and shaming. Failing schools have been publicly named, failing National Health Trusts, failing doctors. It is about time we are permitted to name and shame failing members of the judiciary, particularly those who are culpable of criminal negligence. It is therefore important that a member of the judiciary tries to prevent free speech on the internet, after all it is in their interest that they do not have to suffer the public ignominy of their own gross incompetence.
Trevor Carrier, England



We must forbid, not require, ISPs to filter content

Stephen Spackman, Canada
If someone commits a crime (whether libel or child abuse or...) and uses the Internet to transport evidence of it, it is clearly true that ISPs and backbone carriers are easier to locate and prosecute then the original perpetrator. This does not make them guilty. Conversely, to make ISPs responsible for content is to require them to control the information access - and thus worldview - of their customers. We must forbid, not require, ISPs to filter content. Remember, within ten years they could replace all other communications media. We are discussing total censorship. Please, do not get this one wrong.
Stephen Spackman, Canada

From the little I've seen about this case, I think it's not too bad a precedent, since it was only after Demon refused to remove the message(s) once they'd been asked to do so, that the real problem arose. I don't think this means that ISPs will have to monitor everything, just respond promptly to legitimate requests for such removals.
Darel Robinson, UK

I totally agree that freedom of speech is an essential characteristic of the net and that it should remain. However, as this case proves, ISPs must be more responsible and act to remove defamatory content or ban rogue customers. This is no different to the telephone being a medium for free speech but BT having to deal with nuisance callers - you can't expect BT to regulate speech but you can expect them to act on complaints.
Simon Woodhead, United Kingdom

No one has an unconditional right to tell lies about you, as an individual, that will damage your life and maybe the lives of others. Suppose someone took every opportunity to publish the lie that, say, you had a previous conviction for rape? Wouldn't you want you and your family protected against that kind of thing?

Sam, UK, has got it right by pointing out that Demon refused to remove defamatory content after they were notified and requested to do so. That's the point at which, as far as I'm concerned, their rightful responsibilities kicked in. Before then, definitely not. Right then, definitely yes.
Henry Case, UK



Freedom of speech is one thing, the right to defame with impunity is another


Gerry, Scotland
Freedom of speech is one thing, the right to defame with impunity is another. You cannot lie and call another human being integrity into question with no evidence whatsoever and expect to get away with it.
Gerry, Scotland



Without a shadow of a doubt there should free speech on the net

A Smyth, UK
Without a shadow of a doubt there should free speech on the net. Of course the powers that be want to curtail this, as it empowers the ordinary people, leaving no place for the despot to hide from the truth. The Chinese Government for instance will soon learn just how big a liberating force the internet is.
A Smyth, UK

This case and its settlement sets a potentially dangerous precedent for the future. If you post a robust argument or even strong language relating to an specific individual, your ISP might be liable, even though they are the medium of transmission of the message, not the source. On this basis BT could be sued because they allowed someone to libel an individual in a phone call!
Simon Zerafa, UK



The internet is not outside of society

William Davies, UK
The question of whether there should be free speech on the web is separate from the question of whether someone should be responsible for regulating the web. There's no doubt in my mind that comments that would be illegal if made via other media are just as reprehensible if made via the internet. Clearly it is difficult to uphold such standards in cyber-space, but too often this practicality becomes an excuse for an ethical 'anything goes' mentality. The internet is not outside of society.
William Davies, UK

This is not just a case of holding ISPs responsible for material in hosted discussion groups or web sites. Demon were asked by Mr. Godfrey to remove the content and failed to do so. Whilst it is true that we cannot expect ISPs to check content before it is posted, it seems sensible to have some standard procedures in place for removal of offending items.
Sam, UK

The web is just a blackboard. Anything written on it is the responsibility of the writer, not the person who provided the blackboard. Governments hate free speech, as it is in their nature to try to control human thought, in fact anything that they cannot control and tax.
Paul J Condon, UK



One of the Internet's greatest achievements has been to make it possible for private individuals to express their opinions with ease in a wide forum.

Ruana, UK
Individuals certainly have the right to redress if defamed, but this case clearly shows that a new approach to the issue is required. One of the Internet's greatest achievements has been to make it possible for private individuals to express their opinions with ease in a wide forum. As a result, we are now closer than ever to real freedom of speech. Forcing ISPs to filter our voices will reverse this achievement and would be a classic case of the needs of the few being put ahead of the many. If someone is defamed in a newsgroup, they're free to defend their reputation there too. And, if the matter cannot be resolved with debate, the defamer should be held responsible - not the ISP.
Ruana, UK

ISPs should not be liable for the content of Web sites they host. The liability should rest with the account holder responsible for the offending content. If ISPs are liable this will stifle the growth of the Internet in the UK which will cause not only commercial but social and intellectual losses.
Stephen Thomas, UK

I think that the web should be free. That is one of its greatest virtues! To censor it or make companies libel is to reduce its effectiveness. KEEP IT FREE!
John, England

As long as it is not targeted at any individual or organisation, freedom of speech should be allowed on the net. If it weren't, then we wouldn't be able to have these discussions would we?
Andy MacDonald, UK



The Web is the only place in the world where free expression is possible

Andy Cannon, UK
The Web is the only place in the world where free expression is possible. If a user enters a newsgroup or a chat room they should be aware that they may come across something that may offend them. If something does offend leave. The same rule applies to television, if you don't like what you see, choose another channel or switch off. ISP's should provide a service and nothing more. They should not be held accountable for usage of the service they provide.
Andy Cannon, UK

How can the ISP's be expected to screen everything that goes through them? This will result in higher costs and a slow down on the already strained bandwidth available. But, Demon should have been more responsible when the issue came to light. Therefore, freeness of speech should be a right, but, when this steps into the realms of abusing this privilege, then a legitimate complaint (such as in this case) should be acted on immediately by the ISP in question.
Joe, UK

Freedom of speech is what the 'Net is all about. You have to accept the negative aspects too, otherwise the 'Net will not exist as we know it. It will just become a cold necessity of life, rather than something that evokes any kind of passion - that would be tragic. At the end of the day, people should be intelligent enough to believe only what they deem to be true, not what they are told to.
Vikash Shah, UK



The Internet isn't going to survive, let alone eCommerce, if the Government continues to think it knows best when it actually doesn't know anything at all.

Steve Thompson, England
I am so pleased that the British Government and the British Legal System are doing all they can to ensure that the UK is a leading force in eCommerce. What with RIP back in the news and now the Demon Internet ruling where an innocent party is held responsible for something said in one of it's newsgroups probably by someone not even resident in this country... The Internet isn't going to survive, let alone eCommerce, if the Government continues to think it knows best when it actually doesn't know anything at all. Free Speech in any medium is a human right. If you stop people from using it, or using it in certain ways, you loose your potential e-commerce customer base. The Internet won't appeal to the masses, just to the elite and the select. That will leave Tony Blair with egg on his face and me out of a job.
Steve Thompson, England

I am very concerned about the liability of ISP's to control message boards and chat rooms in light of this case. It seems the individual hosts and guides who work voluntarily for many ISP's are potentially liable for prosecution for inadequately 'policing' message boards or chat forums. I shall certainly review our family's use of such forums until proper guidelines have been issued.
Julia Bain, UK



To be opposed to free speech on the net is like being opposed to the tide coming in!

David, UK
Whether you're for it or against it, as a statement of fact, there is free speech on the net. National authorities may not like it, but short of limiting access to and hand-filtering all material that emanates from outside their jurisdiction (which would incidentally have the side effect of destroying e-commerce). Any person who wants to circumvent national censorship need only post anonymously on a server in a country which permits free speech. To be opposed to free speech on the net is like being opposed to the tide coming in!
David, UK

A Canadian poster on a world-wide group, and ONE UK ISP gets sued. Why just Demon? There are hundreds of UK ISPs -- thousands world-wide. Why did BT not get sued - it carried the message? Why did Dr G not sue the Canadian? Did his reputation suffer as much as it has by this action? No such thing as freedom of speech in the UK!
Clive Robertson, UK

Why should the internet be treated differently from any other media? If the Press can't print what they like, or TV stations say what they like, why should the internet? The publisher must take responsibility for the content of his site. Freedom of speech is a right, but there is no right to slander or defame anyone in any medium, nor should there be.
Jenni, UK

Well that should just about polish of Usenet for good. No-one is going to dare hold news anymore. Another victory for the glorious forces of American style litigious idiocy. Godfrey should be ashamed of himself.
Ross Goodley, UK

As a long-term customer, one of my original reasons for choosing Demon Internet as my ISP was the full, unrestricted access to newsgroups, as I didn't want an unqualified third party making decisions on what I can see or not see on the Internet. I still don't and will change my ISP should Demon impose restrictions on their usage of newsgroups. Furthermore, I believe that ISPs should not be held responsible for Internet traffic generated by others, in the same way that Railtrack is not responsible for the actions of passengers on trains operated by independent organisations using its tracks. Plenty of software exists to block or filter Internet content, it's a question of judiciously applying it where appropriate.
James McGregor, UK



Interesting that this debate is being conducted on a moderated message board!

AH, UK
Interesting that this debate is being conducted on a moderated message board! I happen to agree with Demon's position, although the legal position depends largely on whether or not the ISP could be considered the 'publisher' of the offensive material by hosting the web site or newsgroup. This is a typical area where legislation lags far behind reality and probably terrifies the plethora of new free ISPs springing up every week. The problem is in defining 'publisher' - how do you legislate to protect ISPs innocently hosting potentially libellous or defamatory information whilst protecting (say) journalists? Until the line can be drawn precisely enough to withstand pressure from either side in a law court (and who decides which laws apply anyway?) it looks like we could be stuck with the problem. Perhaps Demon might like to try to recoup the costs from its errant subscriber, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
AH, UK

It's about time that the 'common carrier' immunity from libel held by the Post Office and telecomms companies was extended to the internet and ISPs.
Paul Gordon, UK

I think it is right that the owner of a Web page be held responsible for the content of it. Demon were the owners of the Web page not just the ISP involved so comparing them to blaming BT for a phone call is not the same. Ultimately though it should be the person who made the comment on the Message board who should be sued.
Simon Bradshaw, UK



How on earth can an ISP be expected to read and monitor tens of thousands of messages?

Mike Whelan, UK
Another triumph for British justice. What a daft ruling! How on earth can an ISP be expected to read and monitor tens of thousands of messages? This can only cause immense damage to the Internet and resulting commerce. Appeal immediately Demon!
Mike Whelan, UK

I'm all for free speech but I don't agree with defamation. If a defamatory statement appears on the internet and someone is in a position where they can do something about it to remove it and they are requested to do so, doesn't it make sense that they should? Free speech is one thing, freedom to defame is another.
Raj, UK



The ISPs are simply portals to the internet, and should not be held liable for how individuals behave

Chris Lepingwell, UK
The idea of holding ISPs responsible for material in hosted discussion groups or web sites is akin the notion of holding a brewing company responsible for slander uttered in one of their tied pubs, or holding a telecoms company responsible for the content of faxes sent over their network. The ISPs are simply portals to the internet, and should not be held liable for how individuals behave.
Chris Lepingwell, UK

Mr Godfrey has set a precedent that causes more problems than it solves. There are many unanswered questions about his actions in this case which you can read about on many sites on the web but I won't go into detail here in case Godfrey decides to sue me as well. Of course ISP's and all involved in the Net need to take a responsible attitude towards these issues, but Demon are right when they say the law hasn't moved with the times. Godfrey found a loophole, exploited it and got away with it. But his hollow victory spells problems for us all who use the Net.
Nigel Smith, UK



To hold Demon responsible for the offending messages is like blaming BT for the content of every telephone call

Douglas McLellan, Scotland
I am saddened by this. Free speech is an important facet of the WWW. To hold Demon responsible for the offending messages is like blaming BT for the content of every telephone call. The law needs to be clear on the role of ISPs. Is Netscape now responsible for all the pornography on the Internet?
Douglas McLellan, Scotland

Any individual has an absolute right not to be libelled, causing damage to his/her professional reputation, whatever medium carries the message.
Richard Ashton, UK

Free speech must stay. Government and the judiciary must remember that they are servants of the people, not their masters. Why should I pay tax for schemes designed to monitor and control what I say?
Kevin Elliott, Oxford, UK

Why are the BBC holding this debate when you reserve the right to edit comments in 'Talking Point' effectively censoring free speech. You are a load of politically correct control freaks at the BBC. This is hypocrisy at its very worst.
Tommy Tyzack, US

This is a sad day for the internet. Demon published nothing - the internet users responsible did! Sue them if you like, doctor, but no one else...
David, UK

Further to this article, on the North west news it has just been on that Daily Mail columnist "Linda Lee-Potter" (I think her name is) was allegedly quoted as remarking whether the queens outfit had "come from Oxfam or Burnley Market". Surely a derogatory statement like this is just as bad as the quote found on Demon internet's server and yet they would be very lucky if they successfully sued her on similar grounds.
Timothy Sherlock, UK

Why all the uproar about this? Weren't posters removed from public areas during the visit of a certain Chinese governmental official? If you put up with that you've already lost the battle for free speech.
Vic, USA

Talking point is one the best forum on the WEB. With views across the board on various topical issues. I hope noboby issues a writ against the BBC. That will be a very sad day for freedom of speech
Anil, Watford UK

Given the description of the postings given in the newspapers, it would appear to any remotely normal person that the postings were both libellous and irrelevant to the topic. I doubt that advocates of Free Speech would extend the right to allowing people to follow them around all day chanting abuse. The reality is not black and white - in the real world, we have to balance free speech with freedom from libel.
MF, UK

If ISP's are to be held liable for the content of the web, then that must make them publishers or broadcasters in the eyes of British law and hence the government, and therefore legally responsible for the posting content of millions of people all over the world. An impossible task.My advise to ISP's, play it safe !!! SWITCH OFF ALL YOUR SERVERS AND WATCH THE GOVERNMENT PANIC OVER IT'S E-COMMERCE POLICY.
DEN, CARDIFF,UK, UK

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30 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Demon settles net libel case
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