Italian defamation by Internet Service Provider: the “WhatsApp status” case
According to Italian Law, harmful statements towards the honour and dignity of the offended subject released through WhatsApp status may give rise to defamation criminal offence. In this case, the defamation arises in case the statements are visible to the contacts,
Previous principle has been affirmed by the Italian Court of Cassation in the sentence n. 33219/2021. In the present case, the Supreme Court confirmed the decision of Court of Appeal who found guilty of defamation the subject who published certain statements on the WhatsApp status.
In the context of the decision, the Court denied the absence of specificity of the statements as well as the limitation of WhatsApp status visibility. Subsequently, the publication of harmful statements through WhatsApp status gives rise to defamation criminal offence. In fact, WhatsApp status are visible to all the contacts who have the same application.
Under these circumstances, the publication of harmful statements via WhatsApp status meets the requirement of article.595. Italian Criminal Code. In this sense, previous conduct is characterised by following aspects:
– The absence of the offended party;
– The offence to the reputation of the offended party;
– The presence of at least two individuals who can perceive the defamatory statements
Publishing defamatory statements through WhatsApp status implies the absence of the offended party, the presence of the offence towards the offended party and the presence of two individuals who can perceive the defamatory statements.