Host providers such as Facebook can be made to remove comments deemed defamatory or insulting by a court in an EU member country, the Court of Justice of the European Union, CJEU, ruled on Thursday.
The Luxembourg-based CJEU had been asked by Austria’s Supreme Court to interpret the 2000 European Directive on electronic commerce in relation to a complaint filed by a Green parliamentarian from Austria.
The parliamentarian, Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, had complained that a Facebook user harmed her reputation in a comment on a press article explaining the Austrian Greens’ support for a measure favourable to refugees.
The link to the article shared by the Internet user led to a photo of the parliamentarian, accompanied by a comment which, in the eyes of an Austrian court, insulted and defamed her, the CJEU explained in a press release.
Ms. Glawischnig-Piesczek felt the defamation was all the greater since the post could be viewed by Facebook users the world over.
Asked by Austria’s Oberster Gerichtshof (Supreme Court), the CJEU ruled that a court in an EU country can order a host to remove information whose content was “previously declared unlawful”.
Hosts such as Facebook can also be ordered to “remove information covered by the injunction or to block access to that information worldwide within the framework of the relevant international law, and it is up to member States to take that law into account,” the CJEU added.