IceRed.com chief executive Tim Lam will not crack down on controversial activity in the chat site's lively forums despite facing a third writ in less than a year in relation to allegedly libellous postings. He is confident IceRed operates within the boundaries of Hong Kong law, and that his users' anonymity should be protected. 'We provide a platform to give our users an open forum for discussion and intend to continue doing so,' he said. In the latest case, Max Loh Khum Whai, of Singapore, is seeking the identity of whoever posted messages about him on December 30, on the grounds that a libel claim is likely. Mr Loh has asked for an order forcing the disclosure of the sender's name, address, e-mail address and Internet protocol address. IceRed is unlikely to have the information, however, as the person or persons in question were not registered site users. IceRed does log the IP address from which every post originates. Theoretically, the information could lead back to the computer where a message was written, but in practical terms finding the identity of the person responsible could be a problematic if not impossible task. Mr Lam said IceRed fought past attempts to get user information and would consider opposing Mr Loh's application. In May last year, online trade-show services provider E-Silkroad Holdings obtained a user's Internet protocol address but appears to have been unable to do anything with the information. E-Silkroad alleged about a dozen libellous messages had appeared on IceRed between October 2000 and March last year, when E-Silkroad was listed on the Growth Enterprise Market. The company had threatened to sue the person responsible for the messages. Mr Lam confirmed user information had been handed over in another case, but would not comment further. After news broke yesterday of the latest case, the debate spilled over into the IceRed forums. Under the topic of 'Sue the defamers in IceRed', someone identifying themselves as 'victim' called for tighter controls on the site. 'We should all unite and get IceRed to disclose IP addresses of people who irresponsibly post untrue, malicious messages on this site,' victim wrote. Other IceRed users defended the site's policies. A user identifying himself as 'Badboy' said: 'I don't think it's up to IceRed to police its users. After all, any active measure undertaken by IceRed would probably make it in some way responsible for the content in its message boards. As long as IceRed removes anything libellous upon reasonable request, I don't see the point at all of shooting the messenger.' Mr Lam said Mr Loh's writ sought only information, and he was not suing IceRed for defamation. IceRed maintains it is not responsible for messages posted by users, and points to cases in the United States where Internet companies have successfully made the same argument while defending against lawsuits. But members of Hong Kong's legal community said IceRed's position had not been tested and the site might have difficulty if anyone decided to take it to court. Arculli and Associates lawyer Grace Chan wrote in World eBusiness Law Reports : 'Chat-room providers can no longer proceed on the [simplistic] assumption that they are only providing a bare virtual space . . . which guarantees user anonymity. The courts seem unimpressed by the difficulties of monitoring free-flowing discussion in real time.'