Technology and Business Law Blog

Defamation on the Internet

With the Internet being a forum that is free for all to write, it becomes a double edged sword when anyone can anonymously write about anyone either in the form of a blog, opinion or in terms of a rating of a business or a professional. Good reviews are great but what when a single individual can write numerous reviews and opinions which are negative that could tarnish a professionals or businesses reputation which has been achieved with great effort, numerous years of training and education and hard work, all to be wasted merely by some ill meaning malicious comment then some recourse is needed.

Internet Service Providers are not responsible for user generated content and they cannot be held responsible for the content that is put up in their sites unlike in the other conventional medium such as television, radio or print,defamatory or untrue statements can be addressed by filing a civil suit for libel or slander.

In the medical industry to combat unwarranted defamatory and libelous statements in the Internet physicians are having patients sign an agreement before treatment is given to respect the physician’s privacy. Under this contract a patient can file a lawsuit against the physician if there is a genuine dispute but the expert witnesses used to testify must be from the doctor’s speciality and must be board certified and agree to abide by the code of ethics designated by their specific speciality. The question then to be considered is what if a defamatory statement about the physician is made by someone who is not a patient or if the patient has someone else make the statement who signed no such contract? According to this article the purpose of the contract is to enable the physician to force an Internet service provider to take offensive material down.

In the legal industry there is a site called Avvo.com which rates lawyers but really does not state the parameters that is used to rate the lawyers, and on checking the site out it seemed totally arbitrary based on the information stated in the State Bar website. This site is very different from what I have mentioned above, but Avvo popped up in my mind when I read the article written about the medical industry.

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December 18, 2007 - Posted by | Defamation

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