It has been argued that the introduction of the internet has had a considerable effect on The Defamation Act 1996. In order to answer this question, a brief discussion of The Defamation Act 1996 is needed. We will then consider the impact of the internet and how this has affected the law on defamation.
The Defamation Act 1996 in large part is in place to provide a defence to imputations which may harm the reputation of others. Section 1(1) and (3) of the Defamation Act 1996 states that:
In defamation proceedings a person has a defence if he shows that:
(a) he was not the author, editor or publisher of the statement complained of,
(b) he took reasonable care in relation to its publication, and
(c) he did not know, and had no reason to believe, that what he did caused or contributed to the publication of a defamatory statement.
The introduction of the internet has widened the net on the number of people who could be open to a libel or slander action against them. Recent times have seen it become more common to bring claims in connection with internet publication. In fact, internet archives allow defamatory allegations to remain accessible indefinitely. The problem lies in the fact that copyright and privacy laws are easier to breach on internet forums and social networking sites. Under such circumstances, it may be argued that the effect of this is that it opens the floodgates to claims and that the Defamation Act 1996 does not provide enough protection to defending this.
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