Reading Stuff today, I came across an article that talks about how posting comments claiming that a person is guilty of murder (in this case David Bain) can get the poster in trouble.
I know that there are some really blurry lines when it comes to what you can and can’t do online. Most people will be unaware of the risks they may be taking by (in some cases) commenting or speculating about legal matters.
For the record, David Bain was found not guilty of murdering his family 13 years ago in a retrial.
There are Facebook groups you can join called “David Bain is Guilty”
Legal opinion in the article says that these people are open to defamation cases if Bain decided to take action. Whether he would bother after 13 years of fighting the original conviction is up for debate, but it hilights a real issue in the openness of the internet and the ability to discuss and provide opinion on current events.
One key commnet was this:
People could also be sued if they wrote on their personal Facebook page that Mr Bain was guilty.
if they put it up on somebody else’s site, then if David Bain wanted to
sue he could sue either the person who posted it or the person who is
hosting the site, or potentially the web server (ISP) itself,”
The culpabilty goes far and wide, not only the poster, but the site owner, host and ISP.
I don’t expect this to cause people to stop commenting or tweeting about current events, but it does show that the laws have not caught up to what is happening online.
In a separate case showing some judges are getting a better grip on it, name supression was denied due to the inevitability that the names would be found and published.
Is this a good thing? Name suppression is there for a very good reason. How well the legal system adapts to the online age and particularly social networking will be interesting to view.