Cyber Slander Law Stirs Public Sentiment

      October 07, 2008 10:02

      Controversy has flared up over Grand National Party's attempt to pass a law on online slander and real-name use on the Internet, stoked by the suicide of a leading actress last week who was apparently in distress over online rumors about her. Critics warn the law could lead to abuse of state power.

      In a statement Monday, the Civil Coalition for Fairness in Media said, "If the GNP pushes for the legislation of a bill allowing prosecutors to investigate and indict cyber slanderers even if there is no complaint from victims, there will be grave infringements on privacy."

      Similar offenses offline require a complaint from the victim to be investigated by prosecutors; not so the proposed law. Prosecutors can indict suspects of their own initiative unless victims actively object to the investigation.

      A journalism scholar, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "Slander is a far more subjective concept than defamation, so it could more easily undermine the media's critical function."

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