Blogger must remove Facebook posts to remain anonymous

High Court rejects Ugandan lawyer’s request for the identity of ‘defamatory’ blogger

A blogger will have to remove defamatory posts from his Facebook page within two weeks or a new application can be made to have their location and identity revealed, the High Court has ruled. File photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

A blogger will have to remove defamatory posts from his Facebook page within two weeks or a new application can be made to have their location and identity revealed, the High Court has ruled. File photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

 

A blogger will have to remove defamatory posts from his Facebook page within two weeks or a new application can be made to have their location and identity revealed, the High Court has ruled.

A Ugandan lawyer who wants to sue the blogger had sought an order in the High Court seeking that their identity be revealed by Facebook Ireland, which provides the company’s social media service for all users outside the US and Canada.

Facebook opposed the application by the lawyer, Fred Muwema, after raising concerns about human rights abuses by the Ugandan state.

Mr Muwema asked the court to order Facebook to disclose the location and identity of the blogger who goes under the pseudonym TVO (Tom Voltaire Okwalinga).

TVO posted material on the site alleging Mr Muwema had accepted bribes.

Mr Justice Donald Binchy said last month he could not “in conscience” order that the identity be revealed, given that TVO could be arrested and subjected to ill-treatment by the Ugandan authorities.

He adjourned the matter to consider it further.

Judgment

In his judgment on Wednesday, the judge refused the application on condition that Facebook notify TVO that, unless the offending postings are removed within 14 days, Mr Muwema would be entitled to renew his application to have their identity revealed.

The judge said he had to have due consideration to the fact he had already found the postings were defamatory.

However, he said a person’s right to a good name must take second place to the right to life and bodily integrity of another.