Niall O’Dowd to seek legal advice after online opinion article about Rehab taken down
Niall O’Dowd: “This is a chilling attempt to censor fair comment and reporting in the United States on events in Ireland and will be opposed as such.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
New York-based publisher Niall O’Dowd is to seek legal advice after the company that hosts his Irish Central news website removed an online opinion article about the undisclosed pay of Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins on threat of legal action from her lawyers.
Ms Kerins’s solicitors wrote to Limelight Networks, which hosts O’Dowd’s Irish-American website Irish Central, on February 13th, claiming the article about remuneration in the Irish charity sector was defamatory of her and demanded that it be taken down from the website.
Arizona-based Limelight told Irish Central last Thursday that the company’s lawyers had advised th the article be removed immediately to avoid any damages.
Limelight did not consult Irish Central before removing the article and later told the publisher it needed to take action “when pursued in this fashion”, referring to an agreement between the companies.
O’Dowd has disputed that the article, written by Irish journalist John Spain, breached their agreement, arguing that it was not defamatory of Ms Kerins under the US law that governs his publishing business, a US corporation.
“This is a chilling attempt to censor fair comment and reporting in the United States on events in Ireland and will be opposed as such,” he said.
Ms Kerins’s solicitors, who wrote to Limelight at an address in London, cited a European Commission directive under which the host of a website may be liable for illegal information on that site.
The US Communications Decency Act protects from liability web-hosting companies that publish information provided by others.
Queries on the issue were put to Rehab; however, there was no response.
Updated 19th February 2014: Limelight in a short statement to The Irish Times said that they sold their web hosting business, of which Irish Central is a customer late last year and were not responsible for the decisions or actions leading to the article in question being removed from the website.