Ashley Hurst, a partner at the London office of the law firm Olswang LLP recently gave a presentation followed by a Q&A session at the Center for Internet and Society on the liability issues being faced by US-based internet intermediaries in Europe, noting in particular the contrasting position in respect of copyright and defamation.
Ashley also works on behalf of a number of major internet companies to try to establish a workable solution that ensures that internet intermediaries are taken out of the decision-making process wherever possible.
The extent to which internet intermediaries such as Facebook and Google should be liable for unlawful content on the internet is currently facing a great deal of scrutiny in Europe.
Like in the US, internet intermediaries in Europe are expected to assist in the prevention of copyright infringement.
Unfortunately, they do not have the wide protection against defamation and privacy claims provided by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act 1996 in the US.
Over the last few years, they have therefore found themselves being named in lawsuits in respect of user-generated content.
The UK Parliament is currently looking to pass a new statute which will provide an additional defence to defamation for internet intermediaries, provided that they follow a new DMCA-style notice and take-down procedure.
However, the passage of the Bill is creating a substantial debate about when internet intermediaries should be expected to take down material from the internet and the procedures that they should be expected to follow.
Listen to the whole talk here