New NC Senate Bill Would Require Apologies for Libelous Online Posts

February 24, 2009

If a newly sponsored North Carolina Senate Bill becomes law, anyone posting false or defamatory material on their website should tread carefully. Senate Bill 46, entitled An Act to Make It Unlawful to Communicate False, Defamatory Material That is Libelous or Slanderous Through an Electronic Medium, would provide online publishers ten days to remove material, and post an apology once notified of the transgression, or face a Class 2 misdemeanor. The bill requires the apology and correction to be the “same location in the electronic medium as the libelous or slanderous material was placed.”

According to the bill (PDF file), the new law would cover content posted to “the Internet and any computerized or electronic information service. The term includes a bulletin board, a network, an online service, electronic mail, a forum, a blog, or a news group.” In its current form, the law would not apply to anonymous communications.

The bill was sponsored by Senators Goss, Allran, Bingham, Davis, Jones, Stevens, and Tillman, and as of February 4, 2009 has been referred to the Judiciary I committee. If signed into law during the current session, the law would become effective December 1, 2009, and apply to offenses committed on or after that date.