06:48 GMT +326 June 2019
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    A human rights group denounced a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

    European Court's Hate Comment Liability Rule Hampers Free Speech

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    Decision of the European Court of Human Rights to sue the owner of an Estonian website due to defamatory comments posted by its anonymous readers is violation of freedom of speech, activists said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – A human rights group denounced a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which held an Estonian website responsible for anonymous defamatory comments posted by its readers.

    The civil rights group Access said that the court decision, arrived after a nine-year trial, could push websites toward censoring their content.

    “The ruling creates a worrying precedent that could force websites to censor content. It also creates a perverse incentive for websites to discourage online anonymity and freedom of expression,” Access said in a statement, posted online on Tuesday.

    In 2006, the Estonian news website delfi.ee was sued for defamatory comments posted by anonymous users under one of its articles. The hate comments targeted the owner of a ferry company and leveled threats at him. The website removed the comments within six weeks, but the Supreme Court of Estonia and the First Section of the European Court of Human Rights held the portal accountable for the time that the comments were online.

    On June 16, the European Court of Human Rights stipulated that the comments were unlawful and amounted to hate speech.

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    freedom of expression, civil rights, censorship, European Court of Human Rights, Estonia, EU
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