In something of a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights says that websites cannot be held liable for comments left by readers. The ruling comes after a Hungarian website was sued over the content of messages left by readers.
The court said that if websites were held responsible for comments, it would constitute a breach of the right to free expression. Even in the case of 'offensive and vulgar' comments, providing nothing unlawful was written -- such as hate speech -- Hungarian news site Index.hu, and others, could not be held responsible for readers' comments.
The ECHR's ruling came after Index.hu was sued by a real estate agent back in 2013 after the company was described in a comment as a "sly, rubbish, mug company". While the site took down the comments in question as soon as they were flagged, but its lawyers expressed concern that readers' right to free expression would be restricted if it was expected to look out for and take action on all comments that people took exception to.