The internet is a limitless field to state opinions and views on anything and everything under the sun. Such freedom the individual enjoys! And what a succulent possibility to have one's voice published.
But then comes trouble: somebody gets mad at what the individual wrote and sues him. So, off we go to Court!
In Europe the authorities are most confused with the Internet and its ever-expanding forums: What is allowed and what not? What is defamation and what just a diverting harsh opinion or the ugly truth? Goodness, where do the limits go?
Maybe here, in good ol' Europe the tendency is to be overtly sensitive with hurt feelings. At least one can´t help thinking so when checking out what happened to Finnish Internet company WOT Services Ltd in Germany this year, where the Court judged WOT to retire as fast possible -and with the threat of big fines and without giving WOT a chance to defend itself - certain comments made in their Scorecards by third parties on some companies who sued WOT. The defamatory nature of these comments is definitely doubtful or at least worth considering a deeper analysis. I mean, if I hate a movie and I write in a public place how rotten and badly made it was, does the Production Company or the director sue me? Does a diverting opinion or publishing the ugly truth about someone merit judgment? Can't a company who is being harshly criticized in the Net defend itself with civilized counterarguments?
In the USA this December, freedom of speech scored a nice and big 1 versus the 0 of the suing company. Again WOT was being sued for comments left by thirds on 10 companies all related to the same guy, Mr. Ayman El-Difrawi in Florida. So his companies were being "criticized" for all sorts of ugly things, with the consequence that these people's commentaries are warning others from falling into the trap of scams and other unpleasant misdemeanors.
The chance of looots of people writing ugly lies on somebody just for fun is very small. If someone -a company or an individual - gets criticism or accusations in the Web, he can defend himself publicly with counterarguments or by bringing in proof of his innocence. Suing desperately a forum that publishes openly Net-users' comments and trying to shut it up starts coming too close to tyrannical censorship. The Net forum is not responsible of third parties' comments when they are not indisputably defamatory. And this also (see: article 230 of the Communications Decency Act, legislated in 1996 for similar cases) made the court of justice in Florida grant the motion to dismiss with prejudice. WOT was accused of defamation, violating rights, conspiracy and manipulating algorithms. I guess the owners of the suing companies weren't too happy about their scams coming public.
In the end it's a matter of responsibility. If we do mischief and we get caught, the minimum we can do to go on respecting ourselves somehow is to stand straight and carry the fair consequences of our actions. It is just fantastic that the web serves freedom of speech and gives a chance to people to tell millions of their experience and of what's going on in the Web; this freedom of expression should not be suffocated by the authorities. Certainly we must keep our head cool and clear and not overdo it, but hey, isn't freedom of speech one of the pillars of democracy?