100,000 against bad libel laws

Contributed by
Jan 27, 2010

If you're a regular reader, you know that the libel laws in the UK are truly awful. Instead of the burden of proof being on the accuser, as it should be, in the UK the burden is on the accused. So if I decide to sue you for something you wrote about me, it's up to you to prove there was no malicious intent on your part. And it can cost you literally millions of dollars to defend yourself.

That, to be blunt, sucks. And it's bad for freedom of expression, because it means that criticism of a claim can be substantially suppressed; who would want to speak out against, say, quacks, if they can sue you and cost you time and money?

And we know this is the case because skeptic Simon Singh is being sued under these draconian laws by the British Chiropractic Association for saying they happily promote "bogus" therapies. I've written about this many times.

That's why I'm asking you to go to The Libel Reform Campaign website and sign their petition. They want 100,000 signatures by tomorrow so they can show it to Jack Straw, a Member of Parliament, and get some action started on this. These laws affect everyone on the planet (if you write something on the Internet, it's entirely possible to be sued in the UK for it; this is called libel tourism and is a serious issue), so it doesn't matter if you're a UK citizen or not.

Please sign the petition. I did. And do it soon, so that we can make an impact on free speech everywhere.

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