Every situation is different so by far the best way to find out how to respond to a social media legal issue is to speak to those who are most likely to have dealt with a situation similar to yours.
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Legal liability of website operators in the UK
Legal support for website operators in the UK
Operators of websites in the UK could find themselves liable for various wrongdoings by virtue of operating a website, publishing posts, moderating posts, advertising goods and services or collecting users’ private information. It is important for website operators in the UK to understand their potential legal liabilities and to safeguard themselves against legal claims by internet users, by competitors or by regulatory and law enforcement bodies.
The law that governs the supply of services and the sale of goods online in the UK involves a variety of legal obligations, regulations and statutes from a number of areas of law. As your online start up business grows and develops, so will your legal and business needs, which are going to become more significant. In the event where you ever want to put your business up for sale, merger or acquisition, you will certainly want the legal foundations of your business to be solid strong and supported by an experienced legal team that will be supporting you throughout the process of growth.
Because all of our work is focused on the law of the internet, our lawyers are perfectly placed to assist and support operators of websites in the UK with matters of compliance with contacts, website terms and conditions, trading standard matters, anti-competition law, trademarks, online marketing, promotion and advertising laws. From the point of designing your new intent business, you should speak with one of our experienced internet lawyers who will become one of your best trusted advisors throughout the creation and the operation of your internet business.
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Moderating posts on a review website. What are the requirements and what should your policy be
There are different rules for website operators in the UK, which place more responsibility on them rather than on operators of websites in the United States.
Yes. A website operator, who operates a website which is published in the UK, can be sued for defamation in the UK in relation to posts by third party users. UK law is relatively stringent when it comes to the liability for defamation of website and forum operators. In the USA, a forum or a review website operator, whether they moderate posts or not, are, generally speaking, immune from liability. Whilst the immunity only applies to US based companies, when the same companies operate in the UK, they become the subject on English defamation law, and as a result, could be found liable for defamation in the UK in relation to third party posts. A relatively unique feature of English law, is that it assumes a world-wide jurisdiction, which means English laws may have an impact on US website operators, if they publish defamatory posts against someone who is located in the UK.
In relation to moderating posts on a website, whilst there is no such requirement under English law, website operators are expected to act responsibly and promptly, or they may face legal liability to posts that are defamatory or that breach privacy rights or data protection laws. To moderate all comments on a high-traffic online forum is naturally a very time-consuming and perhaps unrealistic task. Consequently, taking down posts upon notification and evaluation might be adequate, although this is not necessarily a requirement for a UK based website. Some website operators choose not to proactively moderate their websites but instead relay on complaints that they receive from the website users. This, generally speaking, should be adequate and acceptable in terms of their legal requirements.
Failure to respond to complaints about content, could result in liability of the website operator to third party content. It is not an option for a website operator to prevent internet users from posting complaints as there are legal requirements for website operators to publish up-to-date contact details on their websites. As a website operator in the UK, you might want to provide a link on each page of the website, to direct internet users to process of reporting inappropriate content. Website operators’ liability to any posts by third parties may be determined by the way the website operator responds to the notification of harmful content by internet users.
If you operate a website in the UK and you feel that you need to have a legal opinion in relation to your compliance with the law, or advice on what your removal policy should be, please feel free to get in touch and we will help. Our lawyers provide on the spot legal advice to put to rest concerns by website and online forum operators regarding policies and legal notices. Following initial instructions, we will be able to effectively provide you with legal advice promptly and in a cost-effective way whenever you require this guidance.
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