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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bloggers Need to Learn Something About the Legal Limits of Free Speech

There is an interesting development around a libel action being taken against some Bloggers. The reaction from some in the blogosphere is this is ‘libel chill.” That is where a threat or the taking of legal action for libel is used to stifle free speech. That does happen but not every libel action is libel chill.

I have read the Pleadings in the Action against Google, but not the individual Bloggers. The Google portion of the Action contains some wording of the postings the Plaintiff says gives rise to the allegations of libel against the Bloggers in question. It reads to me as pretty serious stuff...if proven.

The anonymous Bloggers of the world have always bothered me mostly because they can do so much damage to people and reputations given the viral and inter-connected nature of the Internet. They can wreck this havoc with virtual impunity.

I have participated through comments on a posting on Saskboy’s site focused on the recent CBC TV’s The National news item on libel chill and blogging. It is an interesting exchange around some of the issues and implications of defamation, the roles and responsibilities of Bloggers and the necessary restraints on free speech in our laws.

This is important stuff as we see the evolution of the Internet and Blogging that has enabled every citizen to be a journalist and publisher...or a cyber-bully.