Govt responds to Mumsnet on regulating websites


by Sunny Hundal    
12:22 pm - March 20th 2013

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Yesterday, Justine Roberts, CEO of Mumsnet wrote to the DCMS to ask if their website would also be caught by the new regulation.

They received this response from Maria Miller’s office (published with permission):

In drafting our proposals it has been our clear intention to regulate the press, not websites like Mumsnet.

I have set out below the detail of the relevant amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill which we laid yesterday – key parts on ‘relevant publisher’ highlighted in relation to special interest websites.

Of course, it will ultimately be for the court to decide on the definition of a ‘relevant publisher’. But our view is that Mumsnet would NOT be covered by the new regime.

Justine Roberts says she has now asked to be specifically included in the list of exempted websites, and about the situation with regard to bloggers in the Mumsnet Bloggers Network.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Hahahahahaha
Serves them right! They should have been more careful for what they wished.

How can you possibly have a white-list of sites?
Absolute nonsense.

@1
Exactly my reaction. Couldn’t happen to a nicer set of censoring ratbags.

3. Uncle Satan

@ 1 & 2.

You are clearly fascists. Anyone with a correct understanding of law knows that laws are only to be used against people with the wrong sort of views.

Liberal left organisations of any sort are supposed to be judged by different standards based on their decency and right on-ness.

So according to the Government parenthood is a hobby or a pastime?

“In drafting our proposals it has been our clear intention to regulate the press, not websites like Mumsnet.”

Notice the word “intention” which of course will have no value at all when the first blog is dragged before the courts. And only a few days since you wrote this Sunny:

“There’s a danger we miss the wood for the trees, as bloggers can already face big fines for libel. I’m fairly confident the eventual body will differentiate between Guardian.co.uk and independent bloggers. Trying to regulate the latter, even Leveson admitted in his final report, would be a step too far.

“The key will be to differentiate between huge operations such as Huffington Post and voluntary blogs like Liberal Conspiracy. We should be vigilant but I don’t see a cause for panic yet.”

Well the Guardian is ahead of the game on this in introducing its own censorship of its Comment is Free articles where it’s stripping over four years of posts from articles.

See:

“The Guardian’s Comment is Free – censoring the historical record – airbrushing the online version”

http://wp.me/p2m6oo-103

“In drafting our proposals it has been our clear intention to regulate the press, not websites like Mumsnet.”

Notice the word “intention” which of course will have no value at all when the first blog is dragged before the courts. And only a few days since you wrote this Sunny:

“There’s a danger we miss the wood for the trees, as bloggers can already face big fines for libel. I’m fairly confident the eventual body will differentiate between Guardian.co.uk and independent bloggers. Trying to regulate the latter, even Leveson admitted in his final report, would be a step too far.

“The key will be to differentiate between huge operations such as Huffington Post and voluntary blogs like Liberal Conspiracy. We should be vigilant but I don’t see a cause for panic yet.”

Well the Guardian is ahead of the game on this in introducing its own censorship of its Comment is Free articles. See:

“The Guardian’s Comment is Free – censoring the historical record – airbrushing the online version”

http://wp.me/p2m6oo-103

8. So Much for Subtlety

So we have a two speed system of law and order in Britain once again. Those with political connections get special exemptions. The proles get the full force of the law.

Great.

Fucking hell, talk about missing the point.

It’s not that Mumsnet will be whitelisted because it’s got connections, it’s that – like almost all blogs – it is not and never was within the scope of the regulations.

The scumbags of the press have repeatedly and deliberately lied that the regulations target bloggers, in the hope of attracting bloggers’ sympathy for their attempts to overthrow the regulations.

The government is simply clarifying what we already knew, despite the lies of the press.

Notice the word “intention” which of course will have no value at all when the first blog is dragged before the courts

It would probably be better if you were to avoid commenting on things you know nothing about. In the event of any ambiguity in law, judges interpret based on legislative intent.

10. Shatterface

It would probably be better if you were to avoid commenting on things you know nothing about. In the event of any ambiguity in law, judges interpret based on legislative intent.

So spying on parents to check if they live in the right catchment area, the persecution of people who leave their bins out on the wrong day and the Twitter joke trial were alk intended consequences of the terror laws?

“terror laws”, lol jk. None of the things you mention have anything to do with terrorism laws (local councils are not, in general, considered to be on the front line of the War on Terror).

12. Shatterface

No, none of them have anything to do with terrorism – other than that they were incidents where counciils – mainly Labour – used RIPA powers created to ‘fight terrorism’ or organised crime to persecute members of the public for trivial offenses.

Where you off the fucking planet when all that was happening?

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mobileweb/2012/08/21/local-councils-abusing-anti-terrorism-powers_n_1819715.html

http://metro.co.uk/2009/03/26/anti-terror-laws-used-to-snoop-on-litter-louts-576831/

@ 11 john b

“terror laws”, lol jk. None of the things you mention have anything to do with terrorism laws (local councils are not, in general, considered to be on the front line of the War on Terror).

Really? I thought that these activities were being conducted under the authority of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 the purpose of which, we were told was to safeguard national security, detect crime, prevent disorder etc.

It was certainly called “anti-terror” legislation by Labour government ministers at the time of its introduction, and local councils certainly have been seen as being important in the war on terror; they are considered to be best placed for knowing who the local radicals are.

It would probably be better if you were to avoid commenting on things you know nothing about. In the event of any ambiguity in law, judges interpret based on legislative intent.

You clearly don’t know as much about the law as you like to think you do. If you did you would be aware that judges are constantly berating politicians for having drafted sloppy legislation, and are telling them that regardless of what they intended, the wording says something quite different. A good example of this is the whole Caitlin Reilly affair. The issue of intent of the legislator comes up frequently in US court cases where the US supreme court judges are constantly trying to work out what the founding fathers were trying to do, but in England and Wales it ain’t that important.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 Shatterface

My understanding is that most of those powers existed already and hadn’t been sold on the basis of fighting terrorism. RIPA just collated them for the most part.

Also, when it comes to judges using the intent behind the law, presumably (and hopefully) that isn’t used to convict people or to fine them in civil cases. Because it’s a fucked up world if you can be convicted for something that isn’t illegal, but the judge says “I reckon they meant it to be illegal”. Whereas it’s reasonable to find someone not guilty on the basis that they’re only guilty based on a technicality born of poor phrasing.

RIPA was never an antiterrorism law, nor was it sold as one. The “detect crime, prevent disorder” bit is a clue here: this is indeed what it has been used for.

Demonica: erm. No. When legislation says the opposite of what was intended, you are correct. This is rare. When legislation can be read ambiguously, then intent and caselaw are used to determine how it is interpreted. This is common.

16. Anthony Hall

There has been some stand off between mumsnet and fathers4justice. Mumsnet was accused of sexism and men hating.

Well I don’t know about any of that but I do think the very title excludes single fathers such as myself. Mumsnet seems to be all about hard done by single mums who have all been treated terribly by men.

If they are publishing in a mysandric way, they should be censored.

Anthony Hall re comment 16:

It’s easy to swipe at Mumsnet or their nemesis Netmums, as the first posters did, but in my experience they offer a platform for parents to discuss all aspects of caring for children. Their discussions about health and medical concerns are worth their weight in gold and counter any tripe about party entertainers and recipes for gluten-free cup cakes.

@kojak

You don’t get it, do you? This is about Government Censorship, not content. I reckon that a discussion about the NHS could get pretty tasty…


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