The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that websites can be held responsible for anonymous and allegedly offensive comments from its readers. The ruling follows the case of the 2006 Estonian news site Delfi's article on SLK, a local ferry company, which led to thousands of angry comments against the company being posted on the Delfi site. The Estonian court fined Delfi 320 Euros as a consequence of these comments and the failure of the site to remove them. The news service appealed the ruling to the ECHR based on the European rules on freedom of expression.

The ECHR concluded that Delfi's freedom to expression had not been harmed by the Estonian court's decision, and that Delfi could be held liable for the user-generated content on its website.

The ECHR noted that the decision related to publishers only and not to social networks.

Please click here for further information from the ECHR.