June 07, 2018
Partner Andrew Bernstein has told Law Times the “pro free speech attitude” in the U.S. can make it challenging to get website owners to hand over its users information in defamation claims.
Andrew’s comments come in an article that discusses the Ontario Superior Court case BeneFACT Consulting Group Inc. v. Glassdoor Inc, where a judge ordered the U.S.-based website Glassdoor to “turn over the names, email and internet protocol addresses of users that posted allegedly defamatory comments” about the Mississauga-based BeneFACT.
The article continues to say that while websites in Canada could potentially be liable for failing to remove defamatory comments, most of these websites are based out of the U.S. making them protected by the U.S. Communication Decency Act.
That act “essentially inoculates website owners from most defamation claims” in the U.S., Andrew told Law Times.
“It is more difficult to get them to do anything. There is very much a pro free speech attitude,” he said.
Even if an action was brought in Canada against the user and the website, Andrew explained there were still plenty of defences.
“They do not have an affirmative obligation to monitor the content, provided they have a complaints process,” he said.
“On a review site, it is inevitable that some comments will be negative [although not necessarily defamatory].
“Eventually, we will get a case here where someone sues the site."
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