22 September 2007

Alisher Usmanov has been convicted of a crime

Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads (note: this link doesn't currently work, for reasons explained below) and Craig Murray (ditto*) have both have their blogs taken down by their internet service provider. Chicken Yoghurt has the full story, but it all boils down to a guy called Alisher Usmanov (a large shareholder in Arsenal) being upset about what they both wrote about this convicted criminal (subsequently pardoned). John Brissenden has reproduced Craig Murray's posting here.

The libel laws in England and Wales are such that an ISP can be sued (along with the original author) for any posting made on their server. So, to make it clear, even though they didn't author the content and, in all likelihood, haven't even seen it, they are liable in law for any statements or suchlike made. This is clearly a morally unsupportable position, both from a "fault/liability" standpoint (i.e. those who are at fault should be found liable) and from an economic standpoint (how can ISPs who host hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of sites be expected to vet every single thing written on them - this is what the law appears to be asking for at the moment). All the current law seems to do is have a chilling effect on free speech, especially if the person allegedly libeled has deep pockets and thin skin.

So, if you wish to show your support for Craig Murray, Tim Ireland and free speech, add one of these buttons to your site and let the world know what is happening.

* He was Our Man in Uzbekistan until this happened.

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