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Few legal aspects, bloggers should be aware about

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When we talk about blogs, a blog is primarily a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. The modern blog evolved from the online diary, where people would keep a running account of their personal lives.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject while others function as more personal online diaries.

A typical blog combines:

  • Text
  • Images, and
  • Links to other blogs, web pages, etc

The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.

Recently when I had the chance to be an integral part of Blogathon, Mr.Tanveer Malhotra, a delegate from Asian School of Cyber Laws shared an in-depth flow of knowledge, most of us weren’t aware of.

During the session, there were many cases being discussed where blogs have raised serious political and legal issues. Some of these incidents include:

[1] In Singapore, two ethnic Chinese were imprisoned under the country’s anti-sedition law for posting anti-Muslim remarks in their weblogs.

[2] Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer was charged of insulting the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and an Islamic institution through his online blog. It is the first time in the history of Egypt that a blogger was prosecuted. After a brief trial session that took place in Alexandria, the blogger was found guilty and sentenced to prison for three years for insulting Islam and inciting sedition, and one year for insulting Mubarak.

[3] Egyptian blogger Abdel Monem Mahmoud was arrested in April 2007 for things written in his blog.

[4] After expressing opinions in his personal weblog about the state of the Sudanese armed forces, Jan Pronk, United Nations Special Representative for Sudan, was give three days notice to leave Sudan.

[5] In Britain, a college lecturer contributed to a blog in which she referred to a politician (who had also expressed his views in the same blog) using various uncomplimentary names, including referring to him as a “Nazi”. The politician found out the real name of the lecturer (she write under a pseudonym) via the ISP and successfully sued her for £10,000 in damages and £7,200 costs.

[6] A Delta Air Lines flight attendant was fired by the airline for posting comments and photos of herself in uniform on an airplane on her blog “Queen of the Sky: Diary of a Flight Attendant”. Delta Air Lines deemed the postings as inappropriate.

After hearing about these eye raising incidents, there were dozens of questions from the participants. However to make it short, a blogger should be fully aware about these basic facts which come under different sections of cyber laws:

  • The blogger is legally liable for the blog posted by him.
  • The liabilities can be very serious in case the blog posts contain pornographic material.

Other cases where liabilities can be serious are:

  • anti-national blogs
  • blogs that hurt religious feelings
  • blogs that criticize political leaders

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