EU Court called on to rule on right to anonymity online
The case revolves around 52 posts made from an Instagram account over an 11-day period in October 2019. Judge Judge Garrett Simons called some of the content “rude and vulgar.”
The judge said the account operators used the school’s address, coat of arms and name without permission from the school, and also referred to its website, but that it was’ inconceivable that anyone who consults the user account would mistake it for an “ official ” school account. “.
In his decision, Justice Garrett Simons outlined the four conditions that must be met before a disclosure order can be granted.
First, a claimant must provide the court with evidence which, at least prima facie, demonstrates wrongdoing. Second, the court must be satisfied that the disclosure order is necessary and proportionate to a legitimate objective. Third, the written statement substantiating the request must explain the precise purpose for which the disclosure order is sought. Finally, if granted, a disclosure order will be subject to a commitment that the information disclosed will not be used for any purpose other than to seek redress for the wrongs complained of.
Dublin-based Michael Finn of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, specializing in technology dispute resolution, said: “European courts, and the transnational laws they interpret and apply, recognize that individual rights, such as the right to anonymity, must be weighed against other interests. Limitation of these rights is only permitted to the extent that such restrictions are prescribed by law, necessary, proportionate and pursue an objective of compensatory public interest. “
“The most obvious example of an acceptable limitation on individual rights occurs when competent national authorities seek to disclose personal information for the purposes of preventing, investigating, detecting and prosecuting criminal offenses. However, the courts have also in the past allowed the granting of disclosure orders when an anonymous culprit inflicts civil harm on a party, for example when a culprit defames the plaintiff or infringes his copyright “, he declared.
“In this case, the balance of rights and interests arises in an entirely different context, as the purpose of the disclosure order sought by the school is to obtain information for the purpose of pursuing a disciplinary response.” internal. The High Court indicated that the case law before it did not deal with the specific question of whether these purposes justified an interference with an individual’s rights to privacy, data protection and freedom of information. expression, it therefore seeks the assistance of the CJEU in interpreting what law the balance of interests is, ”said Finn.
The final questions to be put to the CJEU by the High Court of Ireland will likely be set next month after the parties to the case have had the opportunity to comment on the wording proposed by the Irish Court. It is likely that the CJEU will not rule on the case for some time in 2022.