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Websites to be forced to identify trolls under new measures

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But Privacy International, an organisation that campaigns at an international level on privacy issues, says that there is a concern that "gun-shy website operators will start automatically divulging user details the moment someone alleges defamation in order to shield themselves from libel actions".

"A great deal of the content posted by internet trolls is not actually defamatory, instead constituting harassment, invasion of privacy or simply unpleasant but lawfully-expressed opinion," said Emma Draper, head of communications at Privacy International.

"However, if the choice is between protecting users' anonymity and avoiding a potentially costly lawsuit, many small operators are not going to be overly concerned about whether or not a user has genuinely defamed the complainant."