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Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights

20 Jun 2015

On 16 June 2015 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has passed its ruling in the Delfi AS v Estonia case. Delfi is one of the largest news portals in Estonia. The case involved Delfi publishing an article, which generated a number of comments by its readers, some of which included direct threats against an individual. The individual asked Delfi to remove such comments and pay damages. Delfi complied with removing the comments, although refused to reimburse damages claiming that Delfi is a neutral intermediary and therefore immune from liability under the e-Commerce Directive. 

The Court has ruled that Delfi went beyond that of a passive, purely technical service provider, in particular due to the fact that Delfi has exercised a substantial degree of control over the comments published on its portal and invited the users to post comments, having also an economic interest. The Court eventually ruled that where third-party user comments are in the form of hate speech and direct threats to the physical integrity of individuals, as understood in the Court’s case-law, the Court considers that the rights and interests of others and of society as a whole may entitle Contracting States to impose liability on Internet news portals, without contravening Article 10 of the Convention, if they fail to take measures to remove clearly unlawful comments without delay, even without notice from the alleged victim or from third parties. 

The judgment can be found here

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