Advocate General Asks EU Court of Justice WHAT?

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union recently announced that it had delivered an opinion in connection with a number of proceedings calling for a preliminary ruling in cases involving Ireland and Austria. In Ireland, the owner of a mobile phone submits that the Irish authorities have unlawfully processed, retained and exercised control over data related to its communications. In Austria, three cases brought by the Province of Carinthia have alleged the Austrian Law on telecommunications is contrary to the Austrian Constitution.

Essentially, the top EU legal advocate is asking the EU court NOT to enforce a bad law so the legislature is afforded a chance to fix it. Seriously? That is like asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to strike down discriminatory laws and give Congress a chance to fix them. Seriously?
 

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Monitor Postings in Europe or Face Liability

So you operate a website or have a blog in Europe. You allow others to post comments and interact with your website or blog postings. There is, after all, freedom of expression in Europe, isn’t there? Well on October 10 (2013), the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that if you don’t monitor, censor or moderate postings by others on your website or blog, you may well have legal liability and responsibility – especially if the visitors post offensive comments.

In the case of Delfi AS v. Estonia, the Estonian news website (Delfi) ran a story about a ferry that provoked heated controversy in the nation. Many posts and comments contained threatening and offensive language, and many were anonymous. The ferry operator sued Delfi for failing to prevent these comments from becoming public and for protecting the identity of the individuals who posted such threats and abusive language. The Estonian court agreed with the ferry operator and ordered Delfi to pay damages.

Delfi appealed and the ECHR upheld the decision, noting: "The comments were highly offensive; the portal failed to prevent them from becoming public, profited from their existence, but allowed their authors to remain anonymous; and, the fine imposed by the Estonian courts was not excessive." In case you are wondering, Delfi’s terms of use state that individuals who comment were liable for the content they posted. The court stated that since Delfi allowed many anonymous postings, it was reasonable to hold Delfi responsible.

What should you do? Call us and we’ll advise you. As always, if you want to know more about the information in this post, how to address the legal risks, or any other matters that could benefit from experienced legal counsel and representation, please contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon attorneys with whom you regularly work.