Saturday, July 19, 2014

A French blogger was fined for a negative restaurant review title

{This is an image of a judge in an American courtroom. This posting is about a judge's decision in a French courtroom.}

I like this story because it shows the difference in values between the USA and Europe. I actually think European values are 'better'. In the USA internet laws protect giant internet corporations or companies. In Europe, the laws protect the people.

"Values" means what people believe in or consider to be important.

In Europe a person's reputation on the internet is considered very important. (a person's 'reputation' is how people feel about that person)  Europe recently passed a law which forces Google to remove negative comments about a person from that search engine. The law is called "The Right to Be Forgotten Law". A 'right' is a promise made to a citizen by the government concerning what a citizen may freely do or positive aspects of life experience the government protects for a citizen.

In the USA it is very difficult to get negative comments removed from the internet.  In the late 1990s the US Congress passed a law that stated that an internet site cannot be held responsible for what people post on the site.

The Congress did this because internet web sites did not want to be sued if a strange person used the site to post false and negative information about a person on the site.  (to sue someone is when a person hires a lawyer and takes a person to court to change a situation or to get money in regard to a situation - a court is where you have a judge {see the image above})

So let's say that I have a website in which people can post comments and someone posts a comment involving false information about another person, and that false information hurts that person's reputation. The law states that the person who posted the false information can be sued and punished in court, but the website cannot.

Unfortunately, this has caused lots of problems.

Let's say that someone posts false information about you on an American blogging website. You will, of course, write to the website and say, "Hey! Some mentally ill idiot wrote something terrible about me on your site!  It is obviously false, so please remove it."  The site will write back and say, "We don't have to, so we won't. Go get a lawyer and sue the person who left the posting." You can do this, and if you do this the person who attacked you will get into lots of trouble, but this takes time and needless effort.

Actually, the site won't say that, the site will say, "We believe in 100% freedom of speech, so we will NOT remove this from out site."  But, of course, there is no such thing as 100% free speech, anywhere. Basically web sites don't want to pay extra staff to remove content from their site that is hurting people. Because of the law passed by Congress, they don't have to, so they don't.

This is not, however, want the law intended. The law states that a website cannot be sued if an idiot posts something false on it. The law does not say that a website should not remove false content which hurts people. Obviously, a responsible website WILL remove this content.  Most American web sites just don't want to and so lots of people are getting hurt through crazy, malicious postings all the time. 

In the USA internet law protects giant internet corporations.  In Europe, the law protects people.

In any case, this doesn't happen in Europe - I think Europe has a much better system. In regard to the article below, a blogger had a bad experience at a restaurant and, apparently, deliberately tried to ruin the restaurant's reputation.  I would agree with what the judge did. How about you?

Here is a recent article about a French blogger:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/07/17/fined-french-bloggerrestaurant-critic-i-will-never-say-bad-things-its-too-dangerous/

Vocabulary:

to be fined - to be punished by a judge and forced to pay money to the person who was hurt

stemmed from - came from

chronicled - detailed in a narrative (story) form; to chronicle something is to talk about it as if you are telling a story in a detailed way

slip ups - mistakes

incompetence - if you are incompetent you cannot do your job well

proprietors - owners

glitches - mistakes

tab - bill, how much she had to pay the restaurant as a fine

a harpy - a character from mythology which is half bird and half woman

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