a)  Hungary / b)  Constitutional Court / c) / d)  30-05-2014 / e)  19/2014 / f)  On the responsibility for the content of internet comments / g)  Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 2014/76 / h) .
Keywords of the systematic thesaurus:
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Freedom of expression.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to respect for one's honour and reputation.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Responsibility, internet comments, speech / Internet content providers.
Internet content providers are responsible for abusive comments by third parties posted on their websites, regardless of whether they moderated the comments, or actively removed the harmful content on request.
I. The Association of Hungarian Content Providers (hereinafter, the "Association"), a self-regulating body, was founded in 2001 by internet content providers with the aim to develop the Hungarian internet business market with verified and professional support, and with self-regulation tools. In 2010 the Experient Real Estate Company (hereinafter, the "Company") sued the Association. The Company contended that comments under an article of the Association about its advertisements had injured it, showing it in a bad light and damaged its good reputation. The Supreme Court of Hungary (Curia) ruled against the Association. It reasoned that some "below-the-belt" comments about the Company advertising on the Association’s webpage were "seriously derogatory and humiliating" and "crossed the boundaries of free speech".
The Association lodged a constitutional complaint, requesting the Constitutional Court to decide whether internet content provider bear responsibility for the content of the comments on their website even though they had no knowledge of the comments or immediately removed them at the request of the injured party.
II. The Constitutional Court dismissed the constitutional complaint filed by the Association concerning derogatory comments made on the website managed by the Association. It acknowledged that blogs and comments are considered a form of communication, thus enjoying the protection of the Fundamental Law. Nevertheless, the Court emphasised that the internet was not an area outside the law and internet communication was governed by relevant legal stipulations. Fundamental rights and obligations, as outlined in the Constitution, must also be observed in internet communication.
The moderation of the comments does not exonerate internet content providers from the responsibility for unlawful communication or from the obligation to honour liabilities. The responsibility for the unlawful comments is independent from the moderation. It is based merely on the fact of the unlawfulness; thus, there is no reason to distinguish between the moderated and un-moderated comments. The view of the Constitutional Court is that the operator of a website is responsible for blog entries or comments that violate others’ rights even if those comments are moderated and even if the operator was unaware of such entries and had removed them without delay after receiving a complaint.
III. Chief Justice Péter Paczolay attached a concurring opinion and Judge István Stumpf attached dissenting opinion to the decision.