Court Rules You Can Bad-mouth Others Secretly on the Internet

Internet service providers are not required to reveal information about customers who have written in to talkback forums on sites they operate. The Haifa Magistrate's Court ruled on the matter last week, refusing a request made to ISP "Barak 013" by someone who wanted to file a libel suit against a talkbacker who wrote about him.

Judge Bettina Tauber ruled on a petition from Rami Mor, who provides alternative medical treatments for skin and acne problems. In November and December 2006 a number of messages attacking him appeared on the "Doctors" Internet site, calling him a charlatan and a thief, among other things.

The judge decided that as a rule, an Internet provider is not responsible for the content appearing in tens of thousands of forums all over the Internet, and is not able to keep track of them.

"The proper balance between freedom of expression on the Internet and the uniqueness of the Internet as an institution for democracy does not justify the exposure of surfers' details," wrote the judge. She explained that the content of the information posted was superficial and contained no factual basis; and was therefore not likely to be believed by the public.