• 2012/05/23

Cybercrime to be prosecuted all around Europe

fot: Marian Paluszkiewicz

Trainee of the European Foundation of Human Rights Ms  Katarzyna Anna Gorgol  (fifth – year students at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin) has launched publication series  published in “The Vilnius Courier” by the article “Cybercrime to be prosecuted all around Europe”. This series of publications is focused on most important rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union approaching to the reader, the importance of legal issues, especially in the Human Rights Law area.

If you place comments on an  internet forums, owe an account on the Facebook Social Network, or conduct a blog, you should know, which abuses could occur during using the Internet and how to avoid law violations.

The social networks at the Internet such as “Facebook”, “Twitter” or “MySpace”  become even more popular. Most of us place   opinions or comments on the Internet forums. Through acting in sense of being anonymous we express many opinions, sometimes too much critical, very often have no relations with facts. We should realize that such actions are illegal no matter where was committed, crime still remains a crime, which should be uncovered and punished. Therefore, according to the author case of defamation or slander  appear to be worth mentioned and how to avoid bearing responsibility for expression of minds or know how to get justice, if we are victims.

For those who are not familiar with law, we should precise what the defamation actually is.  Defamation is when someone accuse another of committing actions or owing such competence, which causes loss of good name, trust and respect. Defamation and slander are often used interchangeably. The protection is mostly concerned on good name of the aggrieved people . Because of that fact this crime is prosecuted by appropriate entities for private law petition against someone who has committed defamation. The complaint could be submitted in police station or Prosecution Office, in oral into the protocol in complaint form or written. The execution entity is obliged to undertake steps in order to establish a perpetrator of a crime or any conditions that took place.

Moreover, the crucial difference between expressing opinion and slander. With a view to explaining meaning of the notion. Firstly expression of an opinion is presenting our mind on specific subject or specific person, which must be an evaluation. In slander case we have untrue facts humiliating a person or an authority. But another issue is that slander  must be  related with comment based on commonly known fact; possible to prove even if there is  possible way to show evidence even if the harm was made in good faith or was made in limited area – in family in the way to make impossible investigating if it was committed publicly.

The mentioned regulation belongs to the polish legal system, but its Lithuanian equivalent has similar structure, which according to article 407 of the Criminal Code submitting private law petition to the execution entity (Prosecution or Police). Depending on way of investigation the complaint, it predicts criminal sanctions, i.e. fine, limitation of personal freedom, jail or imprisonment and civil – related to compensation, or just civil so-called damages. Maim difference between polish and Lithuanian regulations seems to be the way of submitting law petition –  aggrieve people are at the same time a private accuser as well, but its structure seems to be similar to the polish one. In accordance with the Lithuanian regulations, an entity cannot be a victim of defamation or slander, differently from Polish Law. Otherwise the case could be reconsidered in different state. Similar problem was faced by the European Court of Justice of the EU.  The Court at Luxembourg October 25, 2011 has adjudicated that in the matter of Court’s competence in order to conduct investigation on matter of defamation, which was committed on the Internet. The problem has occurred in the European Law background which constitute that the citizen of the member state could be sued at his country’s court. Therefore German citizen who has published in Greece his article of the famous Lithuanian actress should be for example sued for abuse if her good name in the territory of Lithuania that make possible launching trial, or eventually in Greece where German worked.

In the Court’s adjudications was concluded that in case of mass media such as the Internet abuse of personal goods is commensurate bigger  with local media, which operate on limited territorially. He has also added that in such issues is hard to determine  factual  place of harm come-to-being or creation of the harm in goods. Due to following matter, we should accept the fact that consequence of an act is concerned on aggrieved person  and therefore  place of permanent  residence is each place, which law was violated. This principle is approved by the special jurisdiction exception, that means competence of other court than mentioned  in general regulations – resignation from the court’s competences place of permanent residence of a defendant in favour of competences place of  come-into-being a claim . Moreover the Court emphasizes matter of the delimitation of place of come-into-being results of abuse and place of abuse as well, which very often will be  the same, but not always. As an alternative place mentions courts particular states in matter regarding violations on particular area or totally court of place of living the perpetrator.

The Court has invoked the Directive 2000/31/EC European Parliament and of the  Council of  8 June 2000, on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market. This is a directive constitutes regulating  a few forms of activities in the Internet, especially these regarding the electronic trade, on the Internal Market of the EU, and social activity as well. This regulation was introduced with a view to  organizing and unifying regulations in all member states, which were repeatedly divergent and chaotic. Therefore the Court has concluded that individual who has committed  a crime in the Internet could be responsible before the court  of place where the results of an action   were established. However he cannot be punished harder than in state of its place of residence or seat.

The article was published by Ms Katarzyna Gorgol, 5th year student of the John Paul II University of Lublin within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu 

Tłumaczenie Ewelina Targosz  w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Ewelina Targosz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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