Monday, November 5, 2018
Using Laws in the UK to Ensure Gender Equality in Digital Spaces
Guardian, Far From Empowering Young Women, the Internet Silences Their Voices
If you walked past a craft beer store regularly, and subsequently received obscene messages on Facebook from the store account, what would you do?
Former Austrian Green party MP Sigrid Maurer wanted to sue a beer shop owner in Vienna after receiving a series of abusive online messages.
But Maurer wasn’t able to sue for public sexual assault, because the messages were private. Instead, she reposted the messages online, including the name of the store and its owner – who then sued her, successfully, for libel. She is now appealing against the ruling in Vienna that would mean her having to pay more than €4,000 in damages, because she couldn’t prove he personally posted the obscene messages. He argued that anyone in the store could have accessed his account and sent the message.
The case is just one example of the chilling impact of online abuse and sexual harassment of women, particularly those prominent in public life.