We need lower barriers for relief from Internet Defamation

If it takes only five minutes for someone to defame another online, why should the victim have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in court to get back their good name?

There is a very low entry barrier for bad-actors to defame innocent people online maliciously. There needs to be a proportionately low barrier for relief for these victims. As such, the Defamation Acts, or similar legislation in all jurisdictions should be amended to include provisions for expedited and economical legal remedies.

In many jurisdictions, the lowest courts in the land, such as the magistrate’s courts, should be authorized to hear cases of defamation whereby the victim seeks modest relief and damages, but more importantly, prompt injunctive relief ordering Search Engine giants to remove defamatory search results from public view.

Often lower courts don’t have the power to issue injunctions. There needs to be uniform “Notice of Concerns EZ Form” ("EZ" = "Easy") that victims of online defamation or harassment can complete, and then serve on websites and other Internet service providers, such as search engines. If the victim chooses these low-level avenues of relief, they will forgo high-level damages that might otherwise be available in high-level courts. These concessions by the victim will make it attractive to the Internet Service Providers to take the easy way out, and avoid potentially much high damages; such as those available to Australians through their respective states in the uniform defamation act.

If the victim elects to take the EZ relief through this hypothetical, newly authorized lower court, or some other special dispute resolution agency, then the damages will be severely limited. Most of us are not looking for a fight; we would be happy if the problem just disappeared from public view so we can get on with our lives. We don't need jackpot compensation payouts. Many citizens will be happy with the prompt removal of the offending defamatory search result from the search engines alone. Forgoing special damages/punitive damages as a specific exclusion for the expedited relief is a concession for the simple process; that is if the ISP agrees to submit.

Even if the offshore website does not remove the defamatory articles in dispute, they may as well not exist if the search engines were to remove the offending material from the search results, because no one would find. The search engines give these horrible online defamation platforms the power; without search traffic, they would be nothing.

Leave a reply