The unsuccessful applicant in the case of Delfi SA v Estonia has lodged a request with the European Court of Human Rights that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber.
In a controversial judgment on 10 October 2013, the the First Section of the Court held that one of Estonia’s main news websites, Delfi, was liable for defamatory comments from its users despite the fact that Delfi had taken down the comments as soon as they had been notified of them.
In its 27 page Referral [pdf], Delfi argues that EU law, as well as other international reports and policy documents of the Council of Europe reflect the principle that in order to safeguard the right to freedom of expression and information on the internet, there should be no obligation for internet service providers to proactivelymonitor user generated content
The decision in the Delfi case has attracted international condemnation. It was considered in three very critical posts on Inforrm last year:
- Case Law, Strasbourg: Delfi AS v Estonia: Court Strikes Serious Blow to Free Speech Online – Gabrielle Guillemin
- Who will sort out the Delfi mess? – Graham Smith
- Treating a news portal as publisher of users’ comment may have far-reaching consequences for online freedom of expression – Dirk Voorhoof
Delfi’s application for a referral to the Grand Chamber has been supported by a coalition of 69 news organisations including the MLDI,Google, Forbes, News Corp., Thomson Reuters, the New York Times, Bloomberg News, Guardian News and Media, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, Conde Nast, the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, the European Publishers Council, Greenpeace, the Center for Democracy and Technology, ARTICLE 19 and national media outlets and journalists associations from across Europe.
These organisations have written to the President of the Court [pdf] stating that they consider the chamber’s arguments and conclusions deeply problematic for the right to freedom of expression on the internet.