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A blog and a Facebook page may instigate to commit crimes

After the recent conviction of a blogger for user’s defamatory comments, another bad news for bloggers.  

             

The Criminal Court of Rome has recently convicted a blogger and Facebook page manager to nine months imprisonment for the crime of “instigation and encouragement to commit crimes” because of comments posted by its users.

The blog and the related Facebook group were opened to denounce the plague of illegal billboards in the streets of Rome. One of the billboards company accused the blogger to have instigated by means of blog and Facebook group a number of vandalism acts carried out by third parties against its billboards across Rome.

The Criminal Court of Rome found that the blogger (and Facebook group manager) was the sole person responsible for the management of the blog and therefore also for the third party messages which were published on it. The judge ruled that it didn’t matter if the messages refer directly to the blogger or are received from blog’s users and rejected the argument that the comments were not filtered and therefore the blogger was not responsible for those contents. This is because “the quality of the contents published in the blog makes unlikely that the blogger was unaware of such contents or misinterpreted them.

In the past, a blogger might have been convicted of defamation or omitted control on contents, in the same way that a newspaper editor may have been. However this approach was rejected by the Italian Supreme Court, and in this instance, the Facebook group manger and blogger was convicted of incitement to commit crimes, which has not been seen before.

According to the information available it seems that the judge did not take into consideration the e-commerce directive principles with particular reference to the absence of general obligation on providers, when providing their services, to monitor the information which they transmit or store .

It is difficult time for bloggers if they risk taking responsibility not only for users’ comments but also for possible actions carried out by other third parties.

Feel free to contact me (gianluigi.marino@dlapiper.com) if you would like to discuss this issue.