Sunday 17 December 2017

Spread libel on web and net yourself a hefty fine

Beware of using social media as a soapbox – the internet police may come after you, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

When it comes to free speech, I've always been militantly in favour of throwing open debate to everybody who fancies pitching in, from fascists and Holocaust deniers to conspiracy theorists and terrorists. That's why when millionaire footballers were caught with their trousers down and found their names bandied about the internet in defiance of expensively acquired superinjunctions, my first response was to laugh, believing it much better to safeguard the free flow of information first and then deal with the consequences later, because, whatever they were, they had to be preferable to censorship.

I also believed that, whatever the downside, the rise of the internet had been a huge boon to the cause of freedom by opening up public conversation to those who were previously silenced or had no outlet for their views. It all seemed healthy and positive.

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