Posting Defamation Online - Legal Consequences
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Recently, Yair Cohen, Social Media Lawyer was on BBC Radio Devon with Janet Kipling and they were discussing the implications of posting defamation on the internet and how the law is catching up. Yair: “There can be serious consequences for people that post untrue statements about people online: Hefty legal costs, damages and prison.”
It used to be the perception that the internet was a completely different society than the offline society and that you could say what you wanted and not have any law stop you. The offline society was heavily policed with laws, courts and prison and the online society had nothing.
Now the problem with the internet of course, is that the comments stay online and because they stay online, they are starting to become harassing to someone. As if somebody is standing outside your house, day and night, and every time you walk out of your house, they’re shouting abuse at you. This is how it feels, so it is there 24/7, every day and because of this the defamation becomes harassment.
Now, harassment is both a civil wrongdoing and a criminal wrongdoing, so if someone feels that they are being harassed on the internet because people are posting defamatory untrue comments about themselves, they could possibly go to the police and ask the police to help under the law of harassment. Unfortunately, it is a slow process and a lot of people are being turned away from the police but things are changing and it is being recognised as a criminal offence. Of course, if the police cannot help, then you can sue through the civil courts.
Hear how perpetrators can be prosecuted and about a recent case where parents were told that there was nothing the police could do about defamation of character when one woman, who started posting untrue allegations online about parents and children at a school ended up being jailed for 9 years.