Defamation of other users in comments could now come with a consequence.
The responsibility of users attacking users and authors in comments may be shifting from the website to the author of a comment. A recently introduced Defamation Bill discussed by the UK parliament suggests that websites would not be responsible for the postings of its users anymore, as long as they are willing to reveal a user's identity. The move is largely seen as a way to contain Internet trolling in which users tend to attack other users in a defamatory way.
There is no indication that a similar bill could succeed in the U.S. given the argument that the Defamation Bill may be violating the right of free speech, even if the free speech of some is harming others.
"Already there have been quite a lot of prosecutions for trolling but we actually think the public are entitled to proper protection against it," justice secretary Ken Clarke said in a statement. Clarke believes that a new defamation law could "strengthen freedom of expression by ensuring that material was not taken down from the internet without the author being given an opportunity to defend it", according to a FT article.
Of course, one could easily argue that online defamation should be held to the same standards as defamation in the real world, which would give Clarke's bill substantial grounds to succeed. Common sense suggests to treat others with respect and if you don't, there will be consequences to go along with it. If you engage in defamation in the real world, there may be legal consequences. Soon, there could be consequences online as well.