Opinion

ISPs need legal clarity



The case of Godfrey-v-Demon - the Internet libel case settled out of court last week - leaves IT professionals mystified and concerned as to what it means for their business.

When individuals and companies sign up for an Internet service provider they have to put their names to contracts which allow ISPs to axe the service if anything untoward happens as a result of the user's actions.

It's not often this happens of course, but this may change. Just think: you've just got your pristine Web site up and running, and are waiting for the cash to roll in. Then suddenly, someone takes issue with the content of your site, perhaps an alleged copyright infringement, or even worse, a claimed libel.

If we'd had a legal judgement in the Demon case the law would be clearer. Who knows how your ISPs will react now - suspend your site to protect themselves or take your side?

Lack of legal clarity on content liability for ISPs is not the ideal environment for e-commerce to flourish.

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This was first published in April 2000

 

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