Keywords: Internet Service Providers; Liability; Internet; Freedom of Expression; Censorship; E- Commerce Directive
In the "Delfi AS v Estonia" judgment of 16 June 2015, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR concluded that the imposition on the applicant Internet news portal company of an obligation to remove from its website, without delay after publication, comments that amounted to hate speech and incitements to violence, did not amount to a violation of the freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Grand Chamber adopted a questionable strict approach compared to that provided by a number of international instruments according to which liability can only be imposed on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) when they do not remove third-party unlawful comments if explicitly requested by a judicial authority. Moreover, the Court did not adequately take into account the differences between a traditional publisher and a portal operator. Its reasoning may lead to self-censorship by ISPs and adversely discourage their activity.