Thursday, August 27, 2009

Be careful what you write

Those who read my blog regularly will know how careful I am not to write anything defamatory on these pages.

More often than not I refer to people as “my neighbours” rather than mention names. I don’t accuse anyone of wrong doing unless I have first hand experience. in other words, I try to avoid hearsay. Where I express my own viewpoint, I try to make it clear because my opinions are just that – they are not facts. The last thing I would want is for anyone to take offence from “Esta es jauja”.

It seems that not everyone who blogs takes the same stance. Police in Orihuela have tracked a blogger who has been making serious accusations about fellow members of the police there. It would not have been hard to find his blog because it was entitled "Ser policía en Orihuela". Nor was it hard to trace the person responsible. Once the police had permission from the court, the telephone company were able to provide details of the author from the IP address*.

The site has been closed down and the man’s computer and hard drive have been confiscated however the damage has already been done. The reputation of the officers concerned has been scarred by the man’s accusations.

Cases like this should be a warning to all. The Internet is not a platform where you can vent your spleen and say what ever you want. The laws that cover slander, deformation of character and libel apply to blogs as much as they do to any other form of publication.

* Perhaps the man did not realise that every computer in the world that is connected to the Internet and every web page ever produced has a unique address which can be used to trace it. Cyber criminals use sophisticated techniques to disguise their web addresses and even they get tracked eventually.

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