Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Europe Human Rights Especially Privacy Trumping Web Defamers And Damaging Journalism

Posted by Peter Quennell

The legal lie of the land seems to be increasingly in favor of those in Italy and the UK and even the US being serially defamed by “Bruce Fisher” and others on the cynical pro-Knox bandwagon.

The European Community’s Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights (image above) are both situated in Strasbourg in north-east France. The ECHR was established in 1998 by the Council of Europe, not the EC, and it has 47 member governments including Russia.

It receives its basic guidance from the European Convention on Human Rights.  Article 10 on freedom of expression and human rights reads as follows:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Note the real strength of that second paragraph. While free speech is generally favored, it will not be protected if it is unfairly damaging to individuals or anarchic to the functions of courts and the governments. 

With the pervasive spread of the internet, and the huge potential now for damage to be done globally, the ECHR generally mirrors national courts ruling in favor of those individuals who had been defamed and damaged by unfounded claims by journalists and internet posters.

Many member governments now have firmer human rights legislation either in place or in the pipeline, and the right to personal privacy and protection on matters that do not affect the public good is invariably a strong part of that new legislation.

Here is Julius Melnitzer of Canada’s National Post explaining, in the context of one case in which the ECHR did rule against a national court, that this is not the main trend being observed (emphasis added).

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that British reporters and journalists need not contact the subjects of potentially defamatory stories before publication to protect people’s privacy.

But the decision isn’t likely to quell the potential for litigation against individuals and businesses arising from online publication of statements that negatively impact reputations.

That’s partly because the law of defamation and the law of privacy are quietly blending, all to the advantage of victims, particularly celebrities, who have been defamed or have had their privacy invaded….

“There’s clearly an increasing overlap between the law of defamation and the law of privacy,” says Michael Smith, who practices defamation law at the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. “Individual social media users should be concerned, but employers face even greater risk because each time an employee posts a negative comment online while at work, or from a work asset such as a laptop or smartphone, the employer is exposed to liability.”...

It’s not just negative comments, but unduly intrusive ones, that can attract liability. While the mere fact that something is true and not malicious may prove a defence to defamation, victims can base their case on an invasion of privacy so long as there is no public interest in reporting the subject matter of their claim.

It’s not that Canada has seen a host of such social media-related suits. “But Canadians spend more time online than any other nationality, which means it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing these types of cases,” Mr. Smith says. “People are thinking less about they’re writing, and they’re firing off knee-jerk reaction missives without a sober second thought.”

As well, high-profile cases like the one involving Mr. Mosley and the extensive publicity afforded rocker Courtney Love’s recent payment of US$430,000 to settle a suit over defamatory remarks she made on Twitter means that awareness of victims’ rights will grow.

“And that’s when we’re likely to see an influx of defamation cases related to social media,” Mr. Smith says.  Many, of course, will be small cases, of the mom and pop variety. But the upside on liability is huge.

“As the courts have noted, defamation or breach of privacy on the Internet can amount to permanent, worldwide damage to reputation,” Mr. Smith says.

Smart move of Knox’s and Sollecito’s parents to be far more restrained now in their public comments these days, especially as all of them will face their own day in court. Perhaps those driving the Knox bandwagon should do likewise.

Maybe first stop inventing approximately 100% of their “facts” and scrub their internet postings clean.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/31/11 at 03:45 PM in The wider contextsMedia developments


More in the “Bruce Fisher” and Michele Sings take-note department:


Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/31/11 at 05:18 PM | #

Would the same apply to this shameless and total misrepresentation of fact?


Posted by Black Dog on 05/31/11 at 06:34 PM | #

Hi Black Dog. The threat applies whenever anyone is being maliciously attacked or the attack is very damaging and was made with no consideration of the public good.

In today’s news three journalists have been jailed in Italy for just such an attack:  http://www.freemedia.at/singleview/5561/  We are seeing three trends in these attacks:

1) As in this case on Politcolnews the claims about the police and prosecution are getting wilder and wilder and are increasingly untethered in any real facts.

2) More and more, the claims are being made anonymously as here, or as in the case of “Bruce Fisher” under a false name.

3) The claims are increasingly only getting onto low-traffic websites, and it is doubtful if anyone with real influence will read there, let alone be persuaded to act to do Knox any good.

The website readership ranking for Politicol (which I for one had never heard of) was 432,276th place in the world for the past month.

TJMk does substantially better than all of that website which carries dull ill-researched posts on other subjects too. TJMK was at 223,884th place in the world for the past month.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/31/11 at 11:03 PM | #

Unfortunately the popular website Huffington Post does allow comments that are borderline or actually defamatory, like the “Kerchers are trying to extort money from the Sollecitos”

Complaining only makes these anonymous trolls um,bolder, so I prefer to make fun of them like here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/26/amanda-knox-support-campaign-italy-_n_867480.html

“First the Amandii refuse to consider the entire house as the crime scene, then change their mind and concede, with sly invitations to ‘leave the discussion to others’. Themselves, I presume.

But it’s their hypothesis that Rudy Guede broke into the house from the outside. By what system of logic would the outside of the house not then be ‘the crime scene’? One that would refuse to admit there were no signs of entry from the outside? They really are allergic to any evidence the whole break in was staged.

Next, they tell others not to refer to the TJMK and PMF sites because ‘they’re full of lies’ yet keep referring to the translation of the Massei Report provided by those sites. Again, they’re so ill informed about the case they forget there was another report from the pre trial judge, Micheli, who reviewed the thousands of pages of evidence and concluded there was enough evidence to send Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito to trial. The Micheli report is available to ANYONE, albeit it’s in Italian. Reading the translated excerpts on the above sites, one is impressed by the thoroughness of the Italian judiciary and their attempts to be fair, and also see why the Amandi-centric refuse to acknowledge the vast amount of evidence against their princessa.

The personal attacks and slurs they keep throwing at not one, not two, but a whole list of ‘enemies’ seems to grow with each setback.

They call the police investigators, the DNA specialist Stefanoni, Prosecutor Mignini, (even though the lead prosecutor was Ms. Comodi) and Judge Massei, incompetent, but are so incompetent themselves they forgot to add Judge Micheli to the list. Does that mean they accept the Micheli report?

They’re so incompetent they keep arguing ‘murder room’ and DNA, yet the only new evidence that is being considered under the appeals process is a review of the original DNA testing (there is NO retesting) jailhouse witnesses who may be trying to ingratiate themselves and get some publicity, and, if the case goes badly, Sollecito, Knox may agree to testify under oath to Judge Hellman (though I think that’s being saved for the final appeal) and Guede might also show up, who knows, Amandii statements to the contrary, he DOES place them there. He CAN ask to be heard, especially if Alessi is called.

And they’re so inept they also can’t grasp that three additional Italian courts have declared the break in was staged. Are those courts incompetent or ‘have erred’ as well? Because the only ones with the means and the motive to stage that are the current defendants”

Posted by Ergon on 06/01/11 at 01:25 AM | #

Wow. I just had a look at the article Black Dog linked above. Let’s take a closer look at the spelling ....

“amanda knox, Italy, perugia, raffaele sollecity, rudy guede, meridth kercher, ...”

That Bruce Fisher is pretty useless, isn’t he?

Posted by Nell on 06/01/11 at 06:25 AM | #

Great report Peter, Thank you. Also thank you for an informative post Ergon. Keep up the good work truth demands that we are vigilant. Justice for Meredith demands that we are vigilant.

Posted by friar fudd on 06/01/11 at 02:54 PM | #

Indeed, Meredith and her family deserve True Justice, friar fudd.

Posted by Ergon on 06/01/11 at 04:43 PM | #

Hi, you may want to know that FOA Doug Bremner has his own blog on HP and regularly inserts himself into discussion http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/hp_blogger_Doug Bremner/amanda-knox-support-campaign-italy-_n_867480_90798231.html
Here’s my reply: I hope you credited the translators at Perugia Murder File for that fine report, Doug:)
The medical examiner used a number of criteria, not only digestion, to determine time of death (Pgs 113-116 Massei) so if you want to dispute those findings, may I suggest you first read the Lalli report?
The time they started the dinner (and finished it) was never stated clearly either, but they do state they had dessert later. (The Apple crumble) Since the time it takes for a meal to pass, depending on composition, stress, and other factors varies from person to person, I see no reason to dispute the ME’s findings. The defense couldn’t either, but you, like Hampkikian, seem willing to insert yourself into a case where you yourself haven’t examined the evidence first hand.

Posted by Ergon on 06/02/11 at 05:47 PM | #

Drat, I see links don’t transfer too well


Posted by Ergon on 06/02/11 at 05:48 PM | #

I see the rumours about Peter have now made it to Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/26/amanda-knox-support-campaign-italy-_n_867480.html
My reply, if it gets posted: “And what has that got to do with the guilt, or innocence of Amanda Knox? Sliming Mignini didn’t work, so you want to slime others? That tactic ALWAYS backfires. I remember when nuclear inspector Scott Ritter exposed George Bush’s WMD lies. Regardless of the truth or not of personal allegation­s against him made by the Bushies, Bush still lied, and, it may well turn out, that Amanda Knox is still guilty 😊 “

Posted by Ergon on 06/02/11 at 06:33 PM | #

Thanks for what you do there Ergon. From our readership figures today and the emails “Bruce Fishers” stunt already seems to be backfiring. It is NEVER a good idea for them to drive new readers over here, for it is here that they tend to get impressed, and then to stay.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/02/11 at 07:37 PM | #

With respect to Jimmy Wales Wikipedia editing http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article3475722.ece
From The Sunday Times March 4, 2008
“Fury of a woman scorned – on Wikipedia
She also sent a transcript of their passionate conversations on an instant messenger service to a California technology blog, fuelling a debate on whether Mr Wales had broken his own website’s principles. Among them is the policy that all of Wikipedia’s “user-facing” content “should be written from a neutral point of view” and may not contain any unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas . . . that, in the words of Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimbo Wales, would amount to a “novel narrative or historical interpretation”
“Mr Wales said that he reviewed the entry on Ms Marsden and discovered it was not up to standard. “We had never met,” he added. They did meet in February. An apparent transcript of their conversations before that meeting suggests that, although Mr Wales had withdrawn from the editing process, he was still influencing the editors.
He said that he had also explained to the team of editors that he and Ms Marsden “became friends . . . and that we would be meeting about that” and so there was now a conflict of interest.
Ms Marsden replied that this approach “usually, actually works much better than the alternative”, to which he apparently replied: “The truth is of course a much worse conflict of interest than that; but that will do.”

Posted by Ergon on 06/07/11 at 04:53 PM | #

And her goodbye e-mail
“Jimmy Wales and Fox News personality Rachel Marsden have broken up — and Jimmy is learning a harsh lesson: hell has no fury like a woman scorned. Here’s the goodbye email from Rachel to Jimmy and an IM conversation that strongly suggests Wales violated Wikipedia’s rules to encourage favorable changes to Marsden’s Wikipedia profile”

Posted by Ergon on 06/07/11 at 04:56 PM | #
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