EISi Intervenes in Delfi AS v Estonia before the ECHR

European Information Society Institute (EISi) yesterday submitted its third party intervention submission before the European Court of Human Rights in Delfi AS v. Estonia, a case concerning the liability of Internet intermediaries for third party comments.

"EISi welcomes the opportunity to intervene as a third party in this case by the leave of the President of the Court." says Martin Husovec, Legal Counsel of EISi.

Delfi AS v. Estonia poses an important question of human rights limits related to the accountability of Internet intermediaries for speech of others. The task before the court is not to pick up one uniform model of regulation, but to outlaw the extremes of any regulation. The Court should, in the opinion of EISi, strive to guarantee an effective remedy of injured parties on the one hand, and to preserve a fertile space for a public discussion needed in a democratic society on the other.

"The first ruling of the court could negatively impact not only hobbyists, amateurs and small businesses that dominate today’s Internet, but also bigger platforms such as Twitter, which rely on decentralized non-editorial instant speech of their users. These platforms are often the driving forces behind public discussion, which is absent in the mainstream media, either because they are too uncomfortable for the editorial board of newspapers, who operate for profit, or because they are significant only for commercially unattractive small communities. Imposing strict liability on those who disseminate this speech could lead to complete removal of non-editorial and decentralized speech from the public discourse, and therefore should not be compatible with freedom of expression. We hope that the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will recognize this." added Husovec.

Submission of EISi address the following: (i) importance of the decision and task of the Court, (ii) practical impact of allowing the strict liability of intermediaries (non-editorial distributors of third party information) under Art. 10 of the Convention, and (iii) suggested human right limits for the liability of intermediaries.

In conclusion, EISi suggests that the Court:

  • spells out, as an abstract principle, that any general monitoring obligation imposed upon disseminators of non-editorial third party defamatory content is incompatible with Article 10 of the Convention and
  • promotes the guarantee of a content author’s right to reply to any allegations before speech is taken down from on-line circulation, by requiring that no liability can be imposed before this moment.

European Information Society Institute (EISi), an independent non-profit organization based in Slovakia which focuses on the overlap of technology, law & the information society. EISi promotes human rights in a digital society by conducting impact litigation before the courts. It also serves as a research center for high-technology law.

 

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European Information Society Institute je mimovládná organizácia, ktorá sa zaoberá prienikom technológií, práva a informačnej spoločnosti. EISi pôsobí aj ako neuniverzitné centrum pre výskum internetového práva a práva duševného vlastníctva.