EHRM 16 juni 2015 (Delfi v. Estonia), Application no. 64569/09

EHRM 16 juni 2015 (Delfi v. Estonia), Application no. 64569/09

The Court considers that the case concerns the “duties and responsibilities” of Internet news portals, under Article 10 § 2 of the Convention, when they provide for economic purposes a platform for user-generated comments on previously published content and some users – whether identified or anonymous – engage in clearly unlawful speech, which infringes the personality rights of others and amounts to hate speech and incitement to violence against them. The Court emphasises that the present case relates to a large professionally managed Internet news portal run on a commercial basis which published news articles of its own and invited its readers to comment on them.

The Court notes that it is not disputed that the comments posted by readers in reaction to the news article published on the applicant company’s Internet news portal, as presented in the portal’s commenting area, were of a clearly unlawful nature.

Thus, the freedom of expression of the authors of the comments is not at issue in the present case. Rather, the question before the Court is whether the domestic courts’ decisions, holding the applicant company liable for these comments posted by third parties, were in breach of its freedom to impart information as guaranteed by Article 10 of the Convention.

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. Therefore, the measure did not constitute a disproportionate restriction on the applicant company’s right to freedom of expression.

Categorieën: Positie tussenpersonen, Uitingsdelicten, Vrijheid van meningsuiting

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