Dear Reader,

The incident of the Greek technical support company, Systemgraph,  suing a disgruntled customer over the customer’s right to publish negative public comments on an internet forum brings to light a hotbed issue — when does a person’s right to free speech get him in legal trouble?  Is the concept of freedom of speech unique to the United States?    Does the global community share our take on this?

I was shocked to hear that a company representing Apple Computer was involved in this.  To the best of my knowledge, Apple itself serviced its own equipment and they have a very good reputation — as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of Apple fans.   It turns out that customers in Greece do not have the advantage of Apple-direct servicing so they must go through a third-party company such as Systemgraph.

No US company either a direct manufacturer or a third-party servicing firm would ever think of suing a customer over such complaints.   “The customer is always right.”  Further, the customer has the right to publicly complain about substandard work, services, or products.   If any action were taken regarding negative publicity, a representative from the company would most likely write a response to the forum itself.  If a US company did bring such a case into court, most likely the ruling would wind up in favor of the customer.

According to an article written about the incident, if a similar case came to a UK court, the crux of the matter would rest on the veracity of the information posted.  If the information were false, a solid case for willful defamation could be made. [1]

Businesses worry about information published on the internet and the speed at which it is passed around.   Negative publicity can certainly have a detrimental impact on a company.  However, just as quickly as the spread of negative press about a company is the spread of how a company responds to such press.

It would appear that freedom of speech is a universal right.

The aforementioned article about such action taken in the UK reports that a company taking this kind of action against a customer would drive off future business.  One Greek polling website has hatred for Systemgraph rated at 95%. [2]  If the momentum continues to build, Systemgraph, may have sealed its fate in the global market.