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European court decision: Websites are liable for users’ comments (arstechnica.co.uk)
120 points by suprgeek on June 16, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 78 comments



The headline is pretty misleading. The ECHR decided that it's not a breach of european rights if a member countries law stipulates a liability for a commercial provider. For example german law still requires that the provider is notified before any liability takes effect. So the provider is liable to remove offending content in a reasonable time after being notified, and this decision doesn't change anything.

For german readers a well written summary http://www.internet-law.de/2015/06/forenbetreiber-haftet-fue...


The article does eventually get around to being a little more levelheaded than its headline:

"Today's decision doesn't have any direct legal effect. It simply finds that Estonia's laws on site liability aren't incompatible with the ECHR. It doesn't directly require any change in national or EU law. Indirectly, however, it may be influential in further development of the law in a way which undermines freedom of expression. As a decision of the Grand Chamber of the ECHR it will be given weight by other courts and by legislative bodies."

Interestingly, US law is basically the exact opposite in this area and is very protective of website operators and service providers, in a way that it's not in other areas like copyright. The article notes there is (or can be) a DMCA-style notice-and-takedown system for defamation in Europe, but the surviving parts of the Communications Decency Act in the US really insulate websites from having to do much of anything at all about information their users provide.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communicati...


The system is not exactly DCMA-style as you don't have to first take down the content and the provider can actually fight the decision on his own - which actually happens from time to time. Small providers and private persons obviously still suffer since they have a hard time defending but I seriously can't think of a better alternative. There are morons on the internet and there need to be ways to enforce a takedown for hate speech IMHO.


Why does there need to be a way to takedown hate speech?

Moderation provides a way for communities to decide what they will and wont accept and you can choose what communities you would like to be a part of.

If a person spews hateful garbage all over the forum report or comments look to the people that run the community to take out the trash. If they wont find a different community.

There is no reason you ought to be able to shut down speech because YOU find it offensive. It sounds great when its happening to a lunatic spewing hate but its a perfect tool to squelch free thought and discussion and it can and will be used for less benign uses if you put that tool in the hands of government.


Because (hate) speech and (cyber)bullying can hurt and even kill people by pushing them into suicide. It's easy to ignore for you and me, presumable both straight white male in a secured position with a good solid job and enough free time at our hands for idle discussions on HN, but much harder so for people from minorities, with prior (mental) issues or other hardships to deal with.

Relying on a community works only where such a community exists, but twitter is not HN where moderators can and do take out the trash, it's a commercial enterprise with limited incentive to spend money on curbing even the most extreme cases and I think that's where some external entity needs to step in and remind them - and that's the law. And while such tools may be in the hand of the government, in germany for example the government does not have standing to sue. It's only the arbiter.


Bullets kill, which is unfair if you think about it. Why don't we organize a circle and come to a consensus that they really shouldn't because it's often used to silence valid discourse?

...

That's also why we shouldn't waste a lot of time on why we should block hate speech. We cannot. If you care to confront reality you must defeat it in other ways.


I differ. I'm well aware that it's impossible to really block anything on the internet, just as it's impossible to really block any kind of speech in the real world. But we can try and curb the worst excesses - threats of death and violence - in the "public" spaces of the internet, that is twitter, facebook and so on. It's not only a way to make those spaces feel safer for those who are less privileged than us, it's also a statement from us, as the society that certain behavior is not accepted - because in the end, that's all a law is: A statement that we don't accept or condone murder, theft or other behavior and we, as the society will hand out punishment. And if you think about it - we punish putting bullets into people until they're maimed or dead - why should we not punish putting words into people until they're maimed or dead.


There are no public spaces on the internet. This isn't a nitpick - it gets to the core of the censorship issue.

If Twitter and Facebook want to ban something, they already can. And do.

As for your statement idea - I personally don't feel that useless gestures like trying to stop the tide are very comforting.


And ultimately even if you come up with a compellingly eloquent reason why it shouldn't, gravity still sucks.

Even though I know we're saying the same ultimate thing, it's not a should/shouldn't issue. It's a does/doesn't issue.

We wish (maybe) we should block hate speech, but we can not effectively. So we need to counter it with ... love speech ... or something. But something we can do instead of wishes and nonsense.


> There are morons on the internet and there need to be ways to enforce a takedown for hate speech

Why?

I understand that if I run a blog I may not want to be associated with some comments people leave, so I have an incentive to police the comment section. But why should I be required to remove comments that other people may find offensive? Even comments that can only be taken as offensive?

First, if people feel a need to advertise ignorance, intolerance, immaturity, etc. I see no reason to keep them from doing so. It makes life a lot easier for the rest of us when we need to determine who to associate with.

Second, in the US, the accepted solution for speech you disagree with is more speech, not less. Don't silence your enemies; destroy their arguments. Show how they're immature, intolerant, ignorant, etc. I prefer to win the debate by having the better argument instead of by silencing critics.


This, im tired of having to worry if some speech will upset someone. HN has a fairly decent system of hiding oncw downvotes, arstechnica does as well.

Maybe its time some people began acting like adults, and engaging in debate, or even just ignoring it completly.

Someone called your company shit? So freaking what. Your a company, not a holy relic, suck it up and keep going, it wont matter in 3 minutes.


The discussion was about hate speech; calling some company shit is not hate speech under any legislation I know of. Let's not fall into arguing against strawmen.


Sorry i should have specified, i mean in a more generalised manner. But even then, do words really effect people that much? If the community has the power to downvote/hide idiotic comments, and to argue through rationalised speech, theres no need to get your panties in a bunch.


Yes, words really affect people that much, but not in the way you're thinking.

The problem that these laws are trying to address isn't (only) that some people might get their "panties in a bunch", but that those comments are often posted with the intention of promoting underground political movements with roots in the hateful ideologies that have provoked much of the violence in the past century. This isn't dead history, it's very much alive and growing, particularly since the crisis.

Now, I personally think free speech is a crucial value, and besides I don't think these laws will help much with the real problem, but I don't think it's helpful to characterize this is just some easily offended people trying to avoid reading bad words.


but that those comments are often posted with the intention of promoting underground political movements with roots in the hateful ideologies

Ouch...do you see where you might want to re-think that. Hint..."underground political movements".

Any regime can call something "intention of promoting underground political movements with roots in the hateful ideologies that have provoked much of the violence" in order to quell dissent.

I see a lot of hate speech that "could" promote violence from the Social Justice Warriors, but just because I disagree with their ideology doesn't mean I want to shut down their forums.


Neither do I want to shut down any forums; I apologize for not making it clear, but that was what I meant in my last paragraph. I don't support hate speech laws.

That said, I don't want to rethink anything. Just because the regime can call something an hateful political movement unjustly, doesn't mean none exist. The movements I'm talking about aren't boogymen, they were the dominant not that long ago in many European countries.


hateful ideologies is subjective. nor should it be illegal in any country that claims to have free speech. furthermore, forcing them underground really doesn't help anyone.

personally, i think its in companies best interests to promote the best arena for users to interact, they don't need the governments sticky fingers in the mess, nobody does. it can also be used as a way of taking out competitors, just keep posting things with fake accounts and keep requesting the government to ask them to remove the comments or get shut down.


I completely agree; that's exactly what I meant in my last paragraph. I just dislike the trivialization of the problem.


> in the US, the accepted solution for speech you disagree with is more speech, not less.

Although, I respect the argument you have made here, you may find that this is a cultural difference between the US and the EU.

In the US, you have Fox News. Whatever you might think about the message Fox News is sending out, they control the message that people hear. In general, the media controls the narrative. A small number of media outlets are the real beneficiaries of free speech. In what way are their opponents able to speak?

A small number of powerful elites have unrestricted control over what speech people actually get to hear. This happens on scales large and small - it's notable that cults are protected by the First Amendment. And, this is the public's loss.

It's not too much better than that in the EU but at least we can prevent a television station or media baron or cult leader from broadcasting hate speech.


Are you suggesting that Fox News should be censored? And how do you decide what is a cult vs. what is a religion?

"Hate speech," btw, has no legal definition in the US judicial system. The term doesn't exist in First Amendment jurisprudence. How does the EU define it?

I'm quite happy to be thus reminded of our freedoms in the U.S.; Lord help us if we go down this route.


I recognize it's a cultural difference. Which, to be honest, was the reason I qualified the statement as "in the US, ..."

> In the US, you have Fox News. Whatever you might think

> about the message Fox News is sending out, they control

> the message that people hear. In general, the media

> controls the narrative. A small number of media outlets

> are the real beneficiaries of free speech. In what way

> are their opponents able to speak?

I would consider that more a question of Freedom of the Press, although it's certainly intertwined with Freedom of Speech. And there's an old quote that "Freedom of the Press only applies to people who have one [a press]." Luckily, it's been getting cheaper to get a message out to, potentially, millions of people. Occasionally, bloggers embarrass professional reporters.

> A small number of powerful elites have unrestricted

> control over what speech people actually get to hear. ...

>

> It's not too much better than that in the EU but at least

> we can prevent a television station or media baron or

> cult leader from broadcasting hate speech.

I don't think the "at least" is something to be happy with. I realize that the governments currently running France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, etc. are more trustworthy than, say, the Russian government. But you have something of a guarantee that -- no matter how much you trust your current government -- eventually politicians you don't trust will take control. If a government has the authority to punish media owners or reporters, then eventually that authority will be abused.


Whatever you might think about the message Fox News is sending out, they control the message that people hear

Like I control the message that my co-worker or anybody else hears when I'm speaking to them?

In what way are their opponents able to speak?

As in opponents, you mean MSNBC, CNN, all the networks, all the major newspapers, all the cultural HBO shows, and tens of thousands of websites?


"powerful elites have unrestricted control over what speech people actually get to hear"

they are called college professors.


> Small providers and private persons obviously still suffer since they have a hard time defending but I seriously can't think of a better alternative. There are morons on the internet and there need to be ways to enforce a takedown for hate speech IMHO.

1) That already exists in the Estonia case and they complied with it. They still were sued under other legalities in Estonia.

2) The fact you are perfectly happy to trample the rights of people to weak to defend themselves legally is exactly why I have a problem with you.

3) If they are morons, and you are unable to sway people without resorting to force with your superior intellect and speech....maybe your belief in your inherent superiority is illusory.

4) For the most part the solution is more speech, not less. Really the only time "more speech" isn't the solution is the publishing of private facts about private individuals as the ability to do so could be construed as a form of force.


>There are morons on the internet and there need to be ways to enforce a takedown for hate speech IMHO.

No. God no. This is functionally no different from every justification for censorship since the invention of the written word. How can the expansion and flexibility of the term "hate speech" not tip you off to the foolishness of this position?


Ok, how about libelous speech that can ruin careers, creditworthiness etc?

I guess we can just all hope EVERYONE who matters will ignore anonymous libelous speech. But then, what if someone writes under a false name? In short, can some speech be harmful enough to warrant forced removal from the public record?

How about a leader inciting his followers to violence? Where are the limits of free speech?


Sure, there are limits of acceptable speech and those are even far below what you and I would call hate speech.

But wasting too much (any) time of the issue of what we should ban misses the issue that ultimately we can't really ban much. If we want to block something, maybe we need to do the social-media equivalent of hands-across-american or something.

But regardless if it's a "good" idea, blocking anything effectively is just hopes and prayers. Your pony is in the mail. Next!


If I were running things free speech would be absolute, including incitement. We already have laws against incitement, and they're only enforced against the people the government doesn't like.


Libel can be resolved through the courts. If you can demonstrate that you have been harmed by someone's untrue speech, then you can be granted restitution.


Playing Devil's advocate, just because the term "hate speech" is vague, doesn't mean the laws must be.


Speech is too complicated to spell out things explicitly. There are too many ways to imply things ambiguously, particularly when you take context into account.

In practice what you do with hate speech laws is give the government tools to arrest people it doesn't like and ignore the sorts of speech you thought you were banning.


So sure, where someone puts their name on it go to their house, haul them to court, and threaten them with jail/compensation unless they remove/repent certain things.

But when there is no identity and you could never find one do you get stuck in an infinite loop of righteousness or do you move on?


That's a different issue; I was just disagreeing with that specific criticism. I don't support hate speech laws, hence "playing devil's advocate".


Sorry. Carry on. :)

And yes, they are a subjective tool for punishing the unpopular.


I take it you don't know what an idiom is?


I thought I used one right in the beginning of my post. Care to be more specific, please?


If you try to create laws prohibiting hate speech, you can get around them by creating idioms. So your laws have to account for context, and that's not something laws are able to do effectively. In fact, the less vague your laws are, the less able they are to account for context.


But, the "reasonable person" referenced in so many laws does recognize idiom.

If I say "I'm going to fuck your shit up", literally that sentence is either a homosexual come-on or means nothing - but idiomatically it means "I will hurt and/or kill you", and at that point a (credible?) threat has been uttered...

So if your "specific" law said "insult X is fighting-words but insult Y isn't", yes that's retarded. But if it says "if a reasonable person would feel the comments were more threat and libel designed to raise hatred against them than criticism..." it might at least be on the right track.


> there need to be ways to [...]

You may want ways the way people want a second coming, or the universe to be flat instead of open, but those are wishes.

Every properly implemented HTTPS site is a TOR gateway, every ethereum (or other CC2.0+) script a HTTPS-TOR gatway, and so forth. To the degree you stop it, you also crush also general purpose computing.

Curse gravity and take 1d6 damage per meter fallen, or grab the rope and suffer modest friction-burns.

Ultimately you combat violence with prosperity, and ignorance with education. There aren't a lot of short-cuts.


I find your comment offensive and see it as hate speech. I demand it be taken down.


Yeah but requiring a notice-and-takedown approach is quite reasonable. This is the equivalent of all EU countries being legally allowed to ban free speech on the Internet at a national level, if desired.

Yeah, its not "changing anything" but its tantamount to admitting that Estonia is not a functioning democracy that respects fundamental human rights like free speech....and that it is OKAY for the EU.


You're pretty harsh with your judgement. The decision stipulates that a fine of 320 EUR for a large commercial provider in a case where it took weeks to take down extreme occurrences of hate speech does not violate fundamental human rights.

The relevant quote from the judgement:

  Based on the concrete assessment of the above aspects, taking into account the reasoning of 
  the Supreme Court in the present case, in particular the extreme nature of the comments in 
  question, the fact that the comments were posted in reaction to an article published by the 
  applicant company on its professionally managed news portal run on a commercial basis, the 
  insufficiency of the measures taken by the applicant company to remove without delay after 
  publication comments amounting to hate speech and speech inciting violence and to ensure a 
  realistic prospect of the authors of such comments being held liable, and the moderate sanction 
  imposed on the applicant company, the Court finds that the domestic courts’ imposition of 
  liability on the applicant company was based on relevant and sufficient grounds, having 
  regard to the margin of appreciation afforded to the respondent State.


> The decision stipulates that a fine of 320 EUR for a large commercial provider in a case where it took weeks to take down extreme occurrences of hate speech does not violate fundamental human rights.

Lol. Says the guy that complains about a misleading title and writes posts that are just as bad, if not worse. Kettle, meet Pot.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/2015/06/16/the-del...

> Some weeks later L requested that some 20 comments be deleted and damages be paid. Delfi removed the offending comments the same day, but refused to pay damages.

Yeah, yeah it does violate fundamental human rights when a "notice-and-takedown" system is not sufficient legal protection for a neutral intermediary.

Frankly, if you cannot figure out how easy this would be to abuse against Estonian websites...I'm sorry you have such limited imagination. Its a deficiency you should look into because "legal attacks" are just as valid as any other security problem and the ability to generate large quantities of hate speech is technically simple and easy to use as comment spam.

The moment someone starts doing that is the moment pretty much every Estonian site has to stop accepting all UGC.


Except that the actual legal judgement went to great lengths to avoid setting that kind of wider precedent by pointing out their judgement applied because the publisher was a large commercial publishing venture that, in the view of the court, could reasonably have been expected to be more proactive in moderating the comments on that particular article based on its subject matter and an apparent "general reputation of comments on the Delfi news portal" as well as the fact it was selling advertising on dedicated comment pages. It also made a point of ruling the fine was proportionate because they couldn't perceive it as having any impact upon its business model, which already includes a moderator team removing >20,000 inappropriate user generated posts per month....

I don't think the decision of the Estonian courts was a good one for a number of reasons, but I can also see why a supranational human rights court could have great trouble seeing why they should overturn it to defend a corporation from a small damages claim for UGC it had profited from and did not attempt to defend as legitimate speech.


> I don't think the decision of the Estonian courts was a good one for a number of reasons, but I can also see why a supranational human rights court could have great trouble seeing why they should overturn it to defend a corporation from a small damages claim for UGC it had profited from and did not attempt to defend as legitimate speech.

Fair enough, I was mainly responding to his weeks comment and the fact that as soon as they were notified it was removed w/i 24 hours of notification and the fact he said "notice-and-takedown" wasn't enough effectively.


There is an unfortunate tendency to dismiss everything that doesn't 100% conform to the constitutional framework of where one is living.

That's especially pronounced in the US, because the US constitution is very rarely amended and almost religiously venerated. The Founding Fathers are often seen as demi-gods who could never have gone wrong.

I wish people would separate "that's the best to handle it" from "that's the only way to handle it, and everyone who disagrees is a human rights abusing asshole".

If anyone is interested I could tell a nice story where our Federal Constitution Court got it right and ruled in the former style ("we could never accept it under our constitution, but it's not as if it were a total injustice").


> There is an unfortunate tendency to dismiss everything that doesn't 100% conform to the constitutional framework of where one is living.

Ah yes, you are adorable at generalizing. You'll notice I pretty much only defend the 1st & 4th amendments [free speech and privacy], indifferent to the 2nd, and I could go on but yeah.

A right to speak freely, worship freely, to be safe from violence, and be secure in your privacy are critical to a functional democracy and fundamental human rights.

> I wish people would separate "that's the best to handle it" from "that's the only way to handle it, and everyone who disagrees is a human rights abusing asshole".

Yes, everyone who doesn't protect those rights is an asshole. I'm not saying start a revolution over it. I'm just saying they are shitty people and its a shitty law.


You're giving a perfect demonstration of what I was writing about.

You're a fanatic, and the way you're acting you are undermining and destroying the rights you pretend to stand for.

Every pendulum that has been taken too far swing back eventually.


The ECHR is no EU institution, and it didn't take any violation of EU law into account because that isn't its purpose.

Whether that Estonian law (and the implementation) is in accordance with EU law (some argue it isn't) would be a matter for the ECJ.


The zeal with which some people view free speech is really quite adorable. I don’t think it’s really so important. (It is important, sure, just not that important. And limiting free speech is certain a-ok with me, within limits.)


Very well. Stop posting completely on HN because HN is now liable even if it takes down hate speech within 24 hours of notification if it was run by an Estonian and/or had connections to Estonia [say via e-Residency].

Its cute how people are ready to sell other groups of people down the river without accepting the broader implications.


I commented on this topic in another HN thread:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9727988

The important part, in my eyes, is in my last response to dragonwriter, which I will repeat here.

>You just no longer have to worry about the website who you've sued successfully in your local courts taking its offense at having being found liable to the ECHR. So it has precisely zero effect on Britain beyond not blocking certain types of liability that the British government might create through its own laws.

As explained near the end of the article:

>As a consequence, active intermediaries and blog operators will have considerable incentives to discontinue offering a comments feature, and the fear of liability may lead to additional self-censorship by operators. This is an invitation to self-censorship at its worst.

The statues under the United Kingdom Hate Speech laws means people can sue in courts for comments containing hate speech and the ECHR now has a precedent to rule in their favor and hold the intermediate party liable for said comments. The result? Nobody wants to be held liable, so they shut down their comment sections.

That's bad for free speech and is a side-entry form of censorship. Not direct from the state, but implied and enforced by the state on private entities.

//end self quote

Although the courts probably wouldn't hear it - wouldn't ISIS or criticisms of extremist readings/interpretations of the Qur'an be protected from hate speech under the U.K's current statutes? Just want to make sure I'm understanding the U.K's hate speech laws properly.


I went to an interesting seminar on UK defamation law as it relates to the UK, given by an experienced barrister. He didn't mention much about hate speech, so I don't know if it's relevant. Notes and slides from the seminar are here: http://francisdavey.github.io/defamation/ and I highly recommend reading them, very interesting! It basically looks like a UK operator now has a fair amount of protection if they take reasonable actions.


Under slide 21 - it seems (unless I am misreading) "honest opinion" is defensible.

So if I call someone a shithead and hold that as my true opinion, it is defensible. But if I call someone a shithead as a matter-of-fact, it isn't. (replace shithead with most any slander: racist, pedophile, sexist)

Slide 32 made me laugh.

Slide 35 seems unreasonable. What if I went on vacation for a week? I only have 48 hours to operate in? So to legally cover my ass, I would have to hire someone to moderate the comment section of my blog while I went on a honeymoon? While this may be an excuse accepted by the court outside the letter-of-the-law (humans are a bit more... human in application of the law), the letter-of-the-law would hold me liable.

There seems to be a loophole that isn't given thought. What if the original comment presupposes the removal and affirms that - "in such a case that a claim is made to remove this comment, my response is that this comment must be retained." and gives their name and address?

Furthermore - wouldn't that put the commentator in potential harm/danger of their life (in an extreme scenario)? That hardly seems reasonable and only encourages them to not respond and have the comment removed. Which is harmful for free speech.

Thanks for the slides. Informative although still a bit scary.


The notes are a bit more detailed (p13 for Section 5). There seem to be lots of different overlapping defences of which you can choose to use one or more, that one is more protocol based and involved than the others (though some companies will like having a protocol to follow). It seems that the commentator doesn't have to consent to their contact information being released in order to keep their comment up.

I remember the guy saying that the best defence seems to be the EU "Information Society Service", and that's what will apply to most startups/businesses.

IANAL, but to be devil's advocate, it is slightly irresponsible to allow potentially malicious posters to post things on your website with no supervision, even if you are on holiday.


>It seems that the commentator doesn't have to consent to their contact information being released in order to keep their comment up.

So would my presumption clause work for keeping a comment up? I couldn't find anything on that approach.

>IANAL, but to be devil's advocate, it is slightly irresponsible to allow potentially malicious posters to post things on your website with no supervision, even if you are on holiday.

They do seem to take "ability to moderate" into consideration from a few case examples.

I honestly don't have a legal defense for this - I just see it as unreasonable. Which wouldn't hold up very well in court. :)


This is tangentially related to the same general topic, so I hope it is welcomed here.

Methods for state censorship are making their way onto content providers online. For example, in the United States we have a system across Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and other sites whereby links will be blocked from publication.

A recent academic publication "Antisocial Behavior in Online Discussion Communities" (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1504.00680v1.pdf) has been reported as a boon for 'anti-troll' applications of the internet - though it finds its funding from counter-propaganda funding from the US and NATO.

The West more generally will cry out when nations block Western content, ideas, or US funded Civil Society groups - but are fine themselves censoring anti-Western ideas and narratives even when they are not directly part of a mis- or dis-information campaign.

Those who have lived both inside and outside the United States are, for the most part, well aware that Americans live inside of an information bubble of American narrative - and that Americans (like every other citizen on Earth) is subject to censorship and to propaganda.

The Internet, by a series of laws and technical solutions, is today in the process of being enveloped into this system.

I lived through the era where the Internet was free, and miss it. I fear tomorrow's Internet, and the Internet of the day after; I fear that it will continue - and all signs currently point this direction - down a narrowing corridor until it, too, becomes unashamedly part of the same bubble.


No surprises here. In France, this has been the case for a long time btw: when you allow comments on your publication (print or web) you basically owe them and are responsible and liable for them. Prior jurisprudence includes Yahoo selling Nazi artifacts and getting fined for it. [1]

If some nut job writes crap on your site you're basically in charge of monitoring and removing it. And in most of Europe, some things are simply off boundaries and not subjected to free speech - in contrast with the US. In particular hate speech.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LICRA_v._Yahoo!


Except for material that literally breaks the law, I tend to favor unfiltered free speech. One exception: sometimes people leave comments on my blog that are not about my post, but rather, links to their products, services, etc. I don't accept those. I don't feel like I need to support other people's free speech in these cases, on my blog.

I may be old fashioned (I have been using the Internet since about 1982), but I really think everyone should have their own web site and/or blog to post their own stuff on.


RIP free speech. This is basically saying that highways are responsible for the damage bad drivers cause.


It's an area where European laws fall extremely short


Maybe this is just my ignorant American self talking, but the speech laws in Europe seem just plain backwards.. decisions like this, the libel laws...


In the US you can stand on the street and deny the holocaust or preach hate against some part of the population and it's covered by free speech, isn't it? I think everybody should be allowed to say whatever they like even if it's hate speech but then again laws are in place to exclude hate speech. I hope that if any lunatic is allowed to say what they like we have to face them and evolve as societies but I may be too naive in expecting people to adapt to that. The rationale for disallowing certain speech is supposedly to limit offending people or luring the gullible into their hate mindset. However even with limited free speech hate mongerers on all continents manage to impress the young and ship them to ISIS-land.

Would it be best if there's total free speech and we'd have to adapt and learn to ignore "trolls" like on the internet?

Or are the lawmakers right in limiting free speech?

At least in the case of libel I'm of the opinion that you should just shrug off what someone says about you. Haters will be everywhere. I mean we all know where contesting someone's public opinion of him got Mr Wylde in ye olde England. Had he listened to his friends and ignored the accusations he might have lived longer.

Libel is often misused like the patent system and not used for its original intention. That might show we better get rid of libel as well while at it.

Many people say bad things about me or you and I want more to do it so that I can grow a thicker skin.

Opinions welcome as I've been thinking about this a lot lately.


European views on "hate speech" and in particular inciting racial hatred against minority groups are very much informed by the Holocaust having happened.

One person saying hateful things can be ignored. A whole mob cannot.


But it's not 1934 any more. Germany can ban hate speech. But ISIS, or Iran, or some nutjob in America can crank out the exact same speech, in German, on a web site that Germans can freely access. Now what does the German ban do? It prevents Germans from saying such things, but not from reading them.

The only way to stop Germans from reading such things is to have a Great Firewall of Germany. But that has consequences too...


Wait a second, you just want to ban all the feminists?? If you would like to see hateful things just pull up any of their actions.

Example:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/bahar-mustafa...

She is racist and sexist at the same time, a whole mob is, I don't see anybody taking these things seriously and she kept her job.

Similar situation different players:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/10/1392082/-Woman-Invo...

Lady loses her job.

I don't see that limiting free speech if going to be good if it is implemented with the same hypocrisy and biased way as our society is (including media and people) now.


It's always funny to see Americans complain about the "lack of free speech" in Germany (Nazism, Scientology), when all those laws and the relevant legal structure around it was not only accepted by the US after WW2, but basically forced upon Germany by the US.


Nobody on HN expects Americans here to agree with current U.S. foreign policy. Why expect us to agree with past policy?


Noone needs to agree with past policy.

But then lament your past policy. Don't attack the ones whose constitution you created.


One person saying hateful things can be ignored. A whole mob cannot.

I've ignored mobs of people saying hateful things plenty of times (pro-lifers, 12 tribes, unions). Sometimes I stop to make fun of them, but as long as they don't get violent there's no problem.


Exactly. What is worse than non banning hateful mobs is banning only the ones the government disapproves...


No, you have it right. We suck.


Europe has somehow got it in their heads that you have some right to not be offended. This is a fool's errand.



I strongly believe in free speech. The only thing that we might need to filter is direct hate speech that is calling for active violence. Anything else should be expressed freely. We need a distributed network for news that avoids these sort of laws to host content partially (few nodes together have the complete data) and changing over time what is hosted. TorrentNews or something like that.


If .onion got more acceptance and browsers could, by default, connect to .onion sites, that'd be a nice first step, wouldn't it?

Web to Tor bridge sites are OK, but I'm guessing they'd be held liable since they ultimately deliver the offending page.

Incitement to violence shouldn't be a limit on free speech directly, but illegal in the way other things involving speech are illegal. Fraud, conspiracy, etc.


I guess than the next phase is to build a mesh network of wifi routers and create a free closed internet without access for government or whoever wants to ban free speech. The technology is ready, with solar power improvements we can do it.


Can OP sue 4chan?




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