Disagreements upon Internet homepage

6 November 1996

EPC received a complaint from Mr. Sven Sildnik concerning the suspension of his Internet homepage http://www.lai.ut.ee/~aadroch/sven. According to Mr. Sildnik the suspension was based on the order given by a writer Aivo Lõhmus. Mr. Sildnik said it violated his right to disseminate information.

Aivo Lõhmus answered the EPC’s request with a complaint on his part, where he stated that by executing his own rights Mr. Sildnik had ignored the rights and freedoms of others and had slandered, offended as well as dishonored a number of writers in his text “List of writers”. A. Lõhmus said that he could not possibly have given the order of suspension. The homepage could have been suspended by Mr. Kristjan Ruumet who was responsible for computer maintenance in the University of Tartu after Mr. Lõhmus’ relevant application.

As the case was under the police investigation for some time it could not be proceeded by EPC. The police closed the criminal case due to the lack of proven evidence.

EPC deems it necessary to word its adjudication in a more general manner without going into detail in this concrete case.

1. Internet as a global database system has not been regulated by Estonian legislation. Therefore, EPC finds it correct to treat Internet homepages on the same principles as media outlets. One must not apply censor, suppressor or any other interference by force towards media outlets based on the content of the published materials.

2. The creators of homepages should bear in mind that the same ethic and professional requirements apply to their work as to any other media outlets, irrespective of the material’s genre. It is possible to avoid any kind of pretext for using force towards Internet as well as the whole media only when these requirements are followed.

3. Vulgar, offensive, etc wording does not follow good journalistic practice in any media outlet, irrespective of the text’s genre.

4. In case the homepage is created by a user (client) of the Internet-server, the content of the homepage should be agreed upon beforehand with the Internet operator and covered in the agreement of operation. If these steps have not been taken, it can be regarded as the internet operator’s acceptance of any kind of material on the homepages and if that leads to problems EPC finds it correct to solve them between the internet user and the operator before the homepage is suspended/suppressed. The interference of outsiders could be regarded as the restriction of freedom of speech.

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