22nd Jul 2016

Are We Winning The Battle Against Internet Trolls?

We’ve all heard the stories about the so-called keyboard warriors who hide behind their computer screens and feel that they have the right to post anonymous negative comments about others. The beauty of hiding behind a computer is that you will never be found and no action can be taken against you, right? Well not anymore…….

Judgment in the above case was handed down on 15 July 2016 against an “unknown defendant”. Users and operators of a satirical website, using the Wiki software, had posted articles referring to the claimant as a paedophile and a rapist.

The claimant took these articles to be defamatory and decided to take action.

The claimant made a complaint and posted the required notice under section 5 of the Defamation Act 2013 and a letter of claim on the Wiki website against three defendants. The first and third defendants proceeded to remove the defamatory articles but the second defendant failed to respond in a bid to remain anonymous, believing foolishly that this would protect it. Although the second defendant’s precise identity was unknown the claimant had evidence of several name variations used by this anonymous internet troll.

The Judge ruled that the second defendant had been duly served as the administrators of the website had responded to the pre-action documentation. The Judge closely followed the ruling in another case Brett Wilson LLP v Person(s) Unknown, Responsible for the Operation and Publication of the Website www.solicitorsfromhelluk.com [2015] EWHC 2628 (QB) and awarded the claimant £10,000.00 in damages, an injunction preventing the second defendant from repeating the allegations and an order to remove any allegations placed elsewhere.

As our lives are increasingly being lived online such court actions will no doubt be brought more frequently. Although it is unlikely that internet trolls will be banished once and for all it certainly gives them less space to hide.

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