18 September 2009
MoJ launches debate on defamation
A debate concerning defamation has been launched by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
It will focus on how laws governing defamation function in the internet age, secretary of state for justice Jack Straw announced.
Part of the legislation dates from the 1840s, long before the development of the web.
In a new consultation, the government is seeking views on issues that could interest anyone who publishes on the internet, particularly those who maintain online archives.
It is asking whether each publication of defamatory material should justify a separate claim, given the fact that the internet enables content to be updated, cached, linked and archived.
Mr Straw said: "Existing defamation law needs to be updated so it is fit for the modern age and it is important we listen to views on the best way to achieve this."
How to balance the freedom to hold and express opinions with respect for the rights and freedoms of others is a "fascinating debate", he added.
Mr Straw was appointed to his current role in June 2007.