Excl: parties agree to deal on web regulation


by Sunny Hundal    
3:58 pm - April 19th 2013

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Liberal Conspiracy has learnt from key sources that the three major parties have reached an agreement on web regulation, which will be presented to Parliament on Monday.

The government has conceded that earlier plans for web regulation went too far.

The new amendments will significantly raise the bar to ensure that bloggers are not covered by new press regulator by default.

Two key changes will be offered:

1) Internet-based media organisations with a turnover of less than £2m or employing less than ten employees will be automatically exempt from the regulator. This is lower than £6.5m definition some were calling for, but still exempts all bloggers.

2) They have also accepted our recommendation that bloggers or other small media entities who choose to join, even if outside the definition, will get cost-protection as a result. In other words, the regulator’s arbitration service will be available to small entities, who want to avoid being hit by libel costs even before being sued, if they sign up.

This opt-in rather than opt-out model was the preferred solution for most independent bloggers.

The government will tie the cut-off point to the legally defined ‘micro-business’ term, to avoid confusion or provide easy loopholes.

Editor Sunny Hundal adds: “This is a good compromise for independent bloggers because it excludes the vast majority, even if some choose to make a living from online writing. It isn’t a perfect solution but there was never going to be one. Setting such a high bar will also ensure most bloggers will not have to worry the regulator, if they choose not to join, until they have sufficient resources.”

UPDATE: The DCMS have published their proposals, backing up our story.

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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


I think that this is a very big missed opportunity. It’s a shame to see the blogging community has created a double standard that says that media co’s need to be threatened in to regulation (They do) while bloggers should be exempted from all of the issues. This is such a blunt and lazy way to deal with the issue which is ultimately one of exposure, readership and financial means than of how large an organisation someone/something is.

My views on it are over here http://niaccurshi.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/new-small-blog-amendment.html

Also the amendment isn’t for internet-based organisations, it’s for any organisation. Also it’s not ten employees, it’s 10 FTE employees. At a blog a week per person, three blogs per day, 2 hours per blog, a companies “employee” count would be 1.12 employees, despite 21 people being involved.

10 blogs? better researched? Maybe a 5 hour job for one blog post? once a week each still? Still only 9.3 employees despite it being 70 contributors and a VERY active blog.

I think that this is a very big missed opportunity. It’s a shame to see the blogging community has created a double standard that says that media co’s need to be threatened in to regulation (They do) while bloggers should be exempted from all of the issues.

Agreed. The door is now open for media organisations to rip into blogs with the “well, they’re not regulated, you can’t believe anything they say” tactic, and it’ll work.

After all, why would anyone believe anything written on a blog if that blog is not prepared to subject itself to the same standards expected of the bigger news outlets? Why would blogs not want to be held to the same standards? Could it be because they wish to tell porkies without being called to account?

Political blogs have now managed to manoeuvre themselves into the position of being lumped in together with David Icke and the conspiracy nuts.

With their antipathy toward reasonable regulation, i.e. being accountable for any rubbish they publish, they have succeeded in shooting themselves in the foot.

This is a bad day for political blogging – the bloggers have managed to create a defeat out of a victory.

has created a double standard that says that media co’s need to be threatened in to regulation (They do) while bloggers should be exempted from all of the issues

This is not exactly how it is. The press need a regulator – we are all agreed on that.

The question is, do blogs? We’re already covered by libel law. We aren’t the ones constantly tormenting public figures with lies. Not all will want to sign up if they’re blogging about policy stuff (for example).

The focus is on well-funded media organisations, I don’t see how nit-picking about what defines a blog means that press regulation is flawed or unnecessary.

That said, I do think there are advantages for bloggers joining (depending on certain circumstances) and I’m glad its an opt-in rather than opt-out situation now. Independent bloggers should have that flexibility.

The question is, do blogs? We’re already covered by libel law. We aren’t the ones constantly tormenting public figures with lies. Not all will want to sign up if they’re blogging about policy stuff (for example).

The press are covered by libel law too as you are well aware. You are also well aware that the big problem with libel law is that, to bring a case against the publisher means getting your wallet out – big time. It is fine for those with big bucks – Lord McAlpine for example – not so fine for the smaller fish in the pond.

As for your statement that you aren’t the ones tormenting public figures with lies, I take it we’ll hear less criticism from you about some of Guido’s more outrageous posts. After all, you were co-conspirators in this drive to exempt blogs from regulation weren’t you?

Surely you wouldn’t be one of those people who seeks to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds?

7. Shatterface

Agreed. The door is now open for media organisations to rip into blogs with the “well, they’re not regulated, you can’t believe anything they say” tactic, and it’ll work.

This has legally enshrined a two tier hierarchy with online newspaper content in the ‘To Be Taken Seriously’ catagory and bloggers lumped in with the climate change skeptics, Justin Bieber forums and Harry Potter slash fiction.

I agree. What an own goal from a few influential bloggers here.

The question really is, seems to me, what is regulation intended to achieve? Fairer and more ethical media? If so, then why would bloggers not want that?

One of the things that cheeses me off is the way a lot of higher profile political blogs get away with biasing debate by censoring off and silencing any comments that pose difficult questions for that blogger’s ideological platform. Regulation to stop this sort of bias would be a public benefit imo.

I’m just waiting to hear the following used on Radio 4s Today:

James Naughtie: But Liberal Conspiracy / Guido Fawkes [detete as appropriate] is a pretty influential blog isn’t it?

Paul Dacre / Alan Rusbridger [delete as appropriate]: Look, they’re not regulated are they? We’re regulated. We have oversight just like you here at the BBC. All of us here are answerable to regulators, they just publish any old rubbish.

James Naughtie: Really? Any old rubbish? That’s what you think?

Paul Dacre / Alan Rusbridger [delete as appropriate]: Yes. Just look at the facts. They didn’t want any regulation for themselves did they? Why do you think that is James?

Pyrrhus of Epirus springs to mind.

“The focus is on well-funded media organisations, I don’t see how nit-picking about what defines a blog means that press regulation is flawed or unnecessary.”

Come on Sunny, who has said this?

The press stuff is *very good*, it sets some reasonable boundaries, keeps things independent, and offers a real (aggressive) incentive to be part of a regulator. The only problem with it really is it’s overly broad definition of a publisher in the Charter and it’s implications on who is allowed to over-see the regulators.

What we’re (I am) talking about here is how bloggers such as yourself have, unwittingly or otherwise, manufactured a situation that didn’t need to happen where blogs are exempt from the same rules despite…for all intents and purposes…doing the same kind of work.

I understand that some bloggers have got worried, the hyper-locals in particular, about the potential cost that could be incurred from playing fair and joining this system. The problem is that those, yourself included, that were consulted on this have seemingly avoided this issue completely and created a line in the sand that actually has no bearing on the purpose of Leveson in the first place.

Leveson was utterly wrong on the internet, not necessarily factually…right now blogs *aren’t* influential, they don’t do a lot of wrong, they aren’t “worth bothering about” to paraphrase him.

But he was wrong to give this as a reason not to legislate with bloggers in mind too, we don’t know where the future will take blogging for sure, nor the papers…but isn’t it reasonable to assume that there will be a point in the not to distant future where blog posts are cited as widely as newspaper articles are?

Levesons point was to say that when people get in to a position of power we can’t trust them to self regulate, to keep ethical. Right now blogs see themselves almost as overseers of the press, a place where truth and opinion sit with more integrity. It won’t take much, indeed it doesn’t take much already, for top blogs to spread untruths and to indulge in dubious behaviour that is for all other intents and purposes entirely legal. If the point of Leveson is to ensure that such actions have easy and cheap routes to justice for those wronged, then the bar for who should be exempt if they publish needs to be very low indeed.

As I said above, the threshold here will allow Liberal Conspiracy to thrive and flourish, to become a more read publication than all but the mainstay tabloids, yet still count as a micro-business and be allowed to flout the paths that should be in place to be more accountable for it’s actions.

What bloggers should have gone in to the DCMS and talked about was only two things.

1) How much will it cost a “small blog” or “micro-business” to join a regulator? Should there be a government mandated cap of turnover amount that a publisher should pay rather than the current hands off approach of the regulator deciding what the fee structure may be? This alleviates the problem of the bar being too high for people to join while still possibly facing the consequences of not joining.

I still believe for this one that it would have been entirely possible (and still is) for bloggers to set up their own regulator with their own fair fee structure…to essentially not only show newspapers that they’re as credible and serious about journalism, but that they’re also going to take the lead and show how it should be done.

2) Where there is a limit for being applicable for the exemplary damages, that it is a) small… it was said elsewhere about being VAT registered. I know someone said this isn’t “fair” if someone registers for VAT while being on a lower income but I say “pah” to that, if you’re serious enough as an organisation to try to save money through the VAT registration, and assuming the cost structure above isn’t stupid, then they are the sort of people that should be joining a regulator.

b) not otherwise focused on money. While it would be unfair to suddenly require a “one-post” sensation that earns no money from their blog to be part of a regulator…if that one person sitting in their flat accrues a regular readership that is high enough then the threat that Leveson saw in the press is entirely present in this lone gunman too, and that person needs to be held to the same standards with regards to their potential victims peace of mind.

It should be obvious that this means more than just blogs too, if you’re a twitter user that is followed by millions of people then you really should be signed up to a similar sort of deal! There have already been cases of people being harassed by “twitter celebrities” and there is literally no way for victims of this to find a way back from it.

This limit? How about your average viewing figures for a media publication blog post, and/or the daily circulation of it’s paper? That way everyone is held to the same standards of what constitutes “influential” with the original intent of regulating the press in mind.

These are the only two things that matter, this whole discussion about “small” blogs is a complete misdirection because the term small has focused on manpower or money rather than impact and influence.

That’s what sad about it, because I can see if this passes as is we will see a minor-scandal in the next 5 years from a prominent blogger and the press will utterly run with it, and then we’ll just have to have this very conversation again.

We can actually get it right and future-proof the solution at this moment in time, so why are we wasting the opportunity?

I pretty much completely disagree with Martin Robbins stance on this, but what I will agree on is that it feels like a group of bloggers have gone in here, with an agenda, virtuous or otherwise, and have carved out a particular set of criteria that suits them, while Martin believes this is at the detriment of bloggers (perhaps like himself, who are co-opted by the press), for me it’s at the detriment of the public.

@ Sunny

The press need a regulator – we are all agreed on that.

No we’re not. In my view, there should be no press regulation whatever.

If the press, or anyone else, breaks a law, they should be prosecuted.

If they tell a lie, that lie should be corrected.

If they tell a lie that hurts someone, personally or financially, there is a perfectly good legal system for the libelled person to access.

Once you “opt” for the “protection” of the state you are, by your own hand, neutered.

And castration, you will discover, is irreversible.

12. Lee Griffin

Pagar here being the voice of over extending both what regulation means and how much control the state has.

Pagar here being the voice of over extending both what regulation means and how much control the state has.

Regulation is a bit like cancer. You might have it for a while and convince yourself you are reasonably healthy.

But you’re not and even a little bit of it can be fatal.

ANY state regulation of the press is highly dangerous and always malevolent. The fact that Sunny seems quite pleased to be important enough to be considered for regulation is a triumph of ego over altruism.

And if you believe the state is incapable of exerting control, you are entirely wrong.

It’s what they exist for.

Pagan seems to confuse the state with the law.

Fool: Paul Dacre / Alan Rusbridger [delete as appropriate]: Yes. Just look at the facts. They didn’t want any regulation for themselves did they? Why do you think that is James?

Who says I’m averse to joining the regulator? I actually said earlier I’d consider it – depending on resource requirements and how it’s framed.

That aside, bloggers look more foolish when the likes of Staines turn up on TV asking for the screen to be darkened so they can protect their anonymity. He is a degree of ridiculousness in himself.

Lastly – we can’t print just any old rubbish – we are also bound by libel law. And in case you forgot, journalists used to say this about bloggers earlier anyway when there was just the PCC. They changed turnes because bloggers starting having impact not because we joined (or didn’t) a regulator. So your argument is silly and superfluous.

Lee: What we’re (I am) talking about here is how bloggers such as yourself have, unwittingly or otherwise, manufactured a situation that didn’t need to happen where blogs are exempt from the same rules despite…for all intents and purposes…doing the same kind of work.

Actually you’re wrong about Martin’s position, because he believes there is no need for press regulation at all. So his objection stems from that perspective – why is there any need at all?

We asked for exemptions for several reasons:
1) A low bar would catch too many bloggers, and could put off people from setting up blogs if they just wanted to write whatever they felt like. We pushed for an exemption not for myself, but for future and current bloggers who might worry how this affects them and be put off.

2) If you don’t want to catch ALL bloggers – but at least have some distinction between people who devote considerable resources, and those who do it once a week during weekends, then you have to draw a line somewhere. We felt a line based on size was the easiest and cleanest way. If you have a better solution – then offer it up.

@14

If Pagar is confusing the state with the law then he/she is in good company as the state and the law having been confusing themselves with each other for some time now, egged on by the sort of thing we see here. Progressives have done their usual thing of working up an obsession about some abuse, insisting that some law or regulation be applied to it and then complaining and or washing their hands when it doesn’t go to plan. To blame bloggers for creating a two tier news system when it was they and their celeb mates who kicked the whole thing off with their determination to shackle the Murdoch press is quite stunning hypocrisy.

I did, and I don’t believe that the “it’ll put off bloggers” makes any sense at all. For a start the average person starting out is unlikely to even consider the law (which in itself is part of the problem). Secondly as soon as you start trying to define what is small by *anything* other than readership/visibility you are creating loopholes.

Multi-author blog but only with occassional guest posters? What if your guest poster is Number 10s PR guy? Or Stephen Fry?

Only post articles once a week? But what if those articles are read each time by more people than read your typical guardian headliner?

It would be fairly easy to encourage blogs that have existed for more than a year to a) have analytics stats that they can provide on request, or for those blogs to be able to query an automated system that could tell them if they were “over the threshold” of impact or influence and thus could start to be liable for exemplary damages.

Not as easy as a flawed and useless line that has been chosen, I will concede, but perhaps the easiest relevant path.

17: No-one is being shackled, that’s what people keep misunderstanding. People hear “regulation” and they seem to think “red tape”, “hoops to jump through”, “state body that can tell us to change our business” whereas this regulation is not that in the slightest.

At it’s core this “regulation” is a strong suggestion, backed up by punitive damages, for publishers to have a complaints procedure and to follow it. Stunningly abusive stuff, eh?

@19

You’ve never heard of a slippery slope ? Of course we’re not supposed to believe in those I know but unfortunately they do exist and anyone who thinks that once state mandated regulation of the press is an established fact it won’t get abused or enlarged is at best touchingly naive. I love that bit about “backed up by punitive damages” nothing to worry about there obviously, you give yourself away with that, if there is no intention to control why introduce the possibility of draconian punishment ? Let’s suppose you’re right and there’s nothing to worry about, how long do you think it will be before we gat some fresh abuse, which we will, human nature being what it is and the call goes out for tighter legislation ? Then again what about self censorship, how will we know if the press is being silenced by fear of legal action ?
What people like you never seem to understand is that abuses and failings are not just inevitable but an essential part of a free press, the price of freedom everywhere is the right to fuck up. It is certainly not the business of the press to act as a tedious echo chamber for the received wisdom of the progressive classes.

21. Charlieman

This isn’t the worst way to deal with changes suggested in the Leveson report but it is close.

The Crime and Courts Bill, to which these proposals will be attached, commenced in 2012 to tidy up some judicial and police niceties. The bill originated in the House of Lords and has gone through three readings up there. The Leveson report additions, which have little connection with the original purpose of the bill, have not been considered by the Lords. The Leveson report additions were first proposed in March 2013 and will be discussed in the Commons. Any revised bill will therefore have to return to the Lords for extensive debate.

The original bill is not entirely uncontentious. It includes a change about use of force by householders in self-defence. The bill, as passed three times by the Lords, deserves further reflection.

Some Leveson report additions to the Crime and Courts Bill (those regarding bloggers or small news organisations) were discussed once with concerned people in a somewhat informal exercise. Thereafter, new additions were announced on 19 April 2013 which are to be discussed in the Commons on 22 April. So those affected have 100 hours over a weekend to consider the latest proposals and to communicate with MPs.

UK Parliament is not time bound to come up with new press laws. The next General Election is scheduled for May 2015 and all major UK parties agree on general principles about reforming laws that affect the press (in a generous definition of press): libel, qualifying grey corruption areas, effective self discipline.

The Leveson Inquiry was conducted over 18 months and it would have absorbed the working efforts of those involved; that is all that they did for 18 months. They thought and breathed the evidence, the sneaky things that people committed and the appropriate way to go forward. But Parliament is in a rush and when Parliament acts hastily it is likely to get things wrong.

Currently the Defamation Bill is in a pickle and many free press/free speech supporters will be absorbed on putting it back on track. The Defamation Bill addresses many concerns that bloggers have about accidental or incidental libel. One of the contributors on LC, Dave Osler, would deservedly have saved a lot of time and money if the Defamation Bill had been an Act a couple of years ago.

In 1991 we endured the Dangerous Dogs Act and this year we are faced with the Dangerous Blogs Act*: a hasty measure from which all bloggers should run a mile.

* I had hoped to originate the expression Dangerous Blogs Act but was beaten by others. Eg Richard Clayton:
http://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/2013/03/22/dangerous-blogs-act/

“You’ve never heard of a slippery slope ?”

Of course I have, which is why I’ve previously commented against plenty of legislation where wording is too loosely worded and allows for that slippery slope. This isn’t one of those situations. Aside from in a couple of areas that still need work, it is tightly bound (while being purposefully abstract to give regulators freedom to operate independently)

“anyone who thinks that once state mandated regulation of the press is an established fact it won’t get abused or enlarged is at best touchingly naive.”

So inform the naive amongst us, how will it be abused? I can say for a fact that this can’t be enlarged without further legislation, which needs to be fought on it’s own terms.

“I love that bit about “backed up by punitive damages” nothing to worry about there obviously, you give yourself away with that, if there is no intention to control why introduce the possibility of draconian punishment ?”

Because the intention is that you should belong to a regulator, for the liberties and freedoms of those that are wrongfully targeted. They need to be considered too. However the government has stopped short of making it a requirement, people can choose to play fast and loose, that is their choice.

“Let’s suppose you’re right and there’s nothing to worry about, how long do you think it will be before we gat some fresh abuse, which we will, human nature being what it is and the call goes out for tighter legislation ?”

If there is fresh abuse, whenever that is, then that will quite rightfully open the table up once more as to what needs to happen to prevent those abuses. This won’t be the fault of the state or the public, but of the press/media over-extending outside of an ethical model of practice yet again.

“Then again what about self censorship, how will we know if the press is being silenced by fear of legal action ?”

This here shows that you may not quite understand the point of this legislation. If you sign up to a regulator your legal costs will go down, if you are a blogger you may well have access to a low cost way of settling claims for the first time ever. There is nothing in this statute that creates chilling effects unless you choose not to follow the path of independent regulation.

“What people like you never seem to understand is that abuses and failings are not just inevitable but an essential part of a free press”

They are, no-one is saying that people need to submit everything they write to the department of press corrections here. What we’re saying is that IF you step over the line, correct yourself quickly, pay damages fairly, and apologise prominently.

People will make mistakes, that isn’t the problem, the problem is the compounding of those mistakes over time in a manner that is too slow to change, and with current regulatory processes that draw out the process of corrections/damages/apologies for ages, and that’s if they even choose to do the right thing anyway!

Seriously, you seem like a smart person, you need to go and re-check what this legislation actually does. Like Pagar you are imagining a lot of this stuff, and maybe that’s because you’ve bought in to a lot of untruths that have been circulated by anti-regulation types without truly diving in yourself to understand the processes being put forward.

23. Charlieman

@18. Lee Griffin: “It would be fairly easy to encourage blogs that have existed for more than a year to a) have analytics stats that they can provide on request, or for those blogs to be able to query an automated system that could tell them if they were “over the threshold” of impact or influence and thus could start to be liable for exemplary damages.”

The web provider that I use for non-political stuff provides a great analysis tool. It works really well for me because my pages have static content. I write a bunch of words and take some photos; I wrap that in some HTML and, aside from an occasional update, that is how it resides for years.

The same tool would not work very well for dynamic content. If my website creates content from a database, the assessment has to count db queries. The source data would be in my database logs, not in the overall hit tool from my service provider.

Of course, there are lots of tools to deliver analysis of dynamic content. But if you get hit by Reddit or Digg or SlashDot (remember them?), you’ll receive more visits in a day than you ever imagined. Your web provider will shift your site from its current location to high availability storage — and if they are nasty people, don’t think about the bills in advance of receipt.

Hit counting is unreliable and prone to fraud.

23: Charlieman -

Absolutely, hit counting isn’t reliable. Nor are circulation figures, I also don’t believe that dynamic content comes in to it, an article is through database or otherwise a static bit of content (though it may be updated or corrected).

Truly dynamic pages would likely fall under exemptions with this law anyway, and excluding them from view counts would make sense. If I’m imagining the same things you are that is!

“Of course, there are lots of tools to deliver analysis of dynamic content. But if you get hit by Reddit or Digg or SlashDot (remember them?), you’ll receive more visits in a day than you ever imagined. ”

Sure, but then we also need to be careful that what we’re talking about here is an aggregated average of your influence on the web. No-one should be penalised for having a one-post wonder, being slashdotted for one article doesn’t mean you should suddenly be wary of the exmplary damages.

This is one reason to have a year’s “grace” period, as until after the year you simply cannot know what your average readership is anyway. :)

Who says I’m averse to joining the regulator? I actually said earlier I’d consider it – depending on resource requirements and how it’s framed.

In relation to costs, it would make sense for bloggers to help set up their own online regulator, then they themselves could help create a system where cost worries wouldn’t be so much of an issue. As for the requirements part, what’s to consider? Surely you don’t regard freedom to publish crap without right of reply as a valuable do you?

That aside, bloggers look more foolish when the likes of Staines turn up on TV asking for the screen to be darkened so they can protect their anonymity. He is a degree of ridiculousness in himself.

That would be the same Paul Staines that you have teamed up with in lobbying on this issue? I don’t watch the telly (I don’t have one), but I was under the impression that he hasn’t done this for years. This is the sort of inaccuracy you need to stop if blogs are to retain their credibility.

Lastly – we can’t print just any old rubbish – we are also bound by libel law. And in case you forgot, journalists used to say this about bloggers earlier anyway when there was just the PCC. They changed turnes because bloggers starting having impact not because we joined (or didn’t) a regulator. So your argument is silly and superfluous.

I know that. You are also aware that the press too are currently bound by libel law. They too – in theory – can’t print any old rubbish. But you and I both know that they do. Yes, it’s true that some in the press have tried to claim that bloggers publish crap but, most of the people who read political blogs are well aware of the power of the libel suit. They know it ain’t so, and that’s what really matters. We both know that politicians could sue for libel far more frequently than they do. The reason they don’t is that they usually work on the assumption that no one believes much of what they read anyway. Well, now the mass media can use the new regulators as a quality mark, while your quality mark will be…?

The simple fact is that, along with your co-conspirators you have successfully engineered a situation where the mainstream press will, with some justification, be able to claim that you aren’t regulated in the way they are, and everyone – including your readers – will know it to be true. Any claims that bloggers do nothing but spout shite will be given added credibility.

26. Charlieman

@20. Thornavis: “You’ve never heard of a slippery slope ?”

Is that like the slippery slope from soft drugs to hard drugs? I am just asking to determine where you are coming from.

Bad laws like the additions to the Crime and Courts Bill cause complications because politicians accidentally place rocks on the path. The aim is for a slippery slope; people such as “them” (whoever they are) deserve to be banged up; and politicians have a law to deliver that.

But the laws to bang up reprehensible people or to defend the obnoxious always go wonky; laws cannot identify every scenario. Bad people go free and good people are harmed. Acting with haste, as Parliament does now, goes wrong.

28. Charlieman

@27. Laban: “Meanwhile, in the US:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber_Intelligence_Sharing_and_Protection_Act

Yes, it is irrelevant and boring.

It is pertinent if your world is based around a noisy websphere or inconsequence.

@Charlieman

No not like soft/hard drug use. Some slippery slopes are real some aren’t, unfortunately the real ones get ignored because some people regard it as a mark of sophistication to laugh at the idea. There is a difference between drug use and erosion of freedom because one is an individual action and the other is imposed from outside, there is no automatic move from soft to hard drugs, it depends on choice and personality, whereas no one gets any choice when the state decides to limit freedom of speech. It takes a lot to get back freedoms lost for the supposed benefit of society, further loss is more likely. Interestingly drugs are an example of a slippery slope, though of the second state imposed kind. Once there was no drug control then there was a little and gradually we moved towards the dysfunctional laws we have now, each move made in the name of the public good. The same process is now under way with tobacco, alcohol and probably food, no doubt with the same negative consequences as drug control – supporters of press regulation take note.

@Lee Griffin

Well thanks for the disarming compliment, backhanded as it is but to save time answering all of your points and just getting involved in the usual tooing and froing, I will just say that my answer to Charlieman above pretty much covers what I think is so badly wrong with this whole thing.

@Lee Griffin

One final word from me, you say this:

“Because the intention is that you should belong to a regulator, for the liberties and freedoms of those that are wrongfully targeted.”

You see it’s this that I really object to. Leaving aside that you don’t aid one persons liberty by regulating that of others what are those liberties and freedoms that have been so seriously abused that we need to move towards regulation ? This whole thing began because the Guardian saw a chance to do some damage to a political opponent but what actually happened ? A few minor celebs had their phones hacked to no one’s great detriment that I can see, apart from that the only serious press issue was that of Milly Dowler, highly distasteful but again no actual harm was done, It seems that the distress caused to the Dowlers is enough to change the law but hard cases make bad laws or so we are often told. The really big issue in this for me was the role of police corruption, which seems to have been quietly forgotten, as we’ve seen with the Andrew Mitchell affair the police are using the press to cause harm, where’s the regulation to control that ?

32. Charlieman

@29. Thornavis: “No not like soft/hard drug use.”

Twelve lines without a breath.

Talk using paragraphs.

Fuck wit.

33. Charlieman

Thornavis is a an enterist from the deceased RCP. Whatever gender, I suggest to fuck off.

Thornyarse
“The really big issue in this for me was the role of police corruption, which seems to have been quietly forgotten”
Who corrupted the police.
Also I love the compassion about the dowler family. You have to be a journo.
Also minor celebs don’t have rights.

Press freedom is a myth. They print what their barons or political cronies tell them to.
Most are extreme racist right wing lying slime who are becoming as relevant as the pony express.
Personally I wouldn’t have brought in legislation mainly because I can’t stand their whining

The reason why blogs should be treated differently is because not blogs are not equivalent to news outlets. Take Liberal Conspiracy, a deliberately political blog which covers public affairs and current events – but which also has several completely non news articles. And, furthermore, which does not generate a substantial turnover so could not afford to pay to be in the regulation scheme.

Then take cakesandopinions.com (not a real site) where someone blogs about their favourite recipes and occasionally mentions a news story. Under the original draft regulations this site would be covered by the regulations and, if for example it linked to a story which turned out to be false, it would then be subject to immense financial penalties because it hadn’t paid to sign up to the regulator.

Why on earth should that blog be treated the same as a major newspaper with hundreds of thousands of readers and a multi-million pound turnover?

Should news blogs be subject to the same standards of accuracy as other news media? Yes. But those aren’t even a large minority of blogs – those are a tiny minority. And the problem with the original regulations is that they wouldn’t have just covered that tiny minority, they would have potentially covered the vast majority of blogs and held them to standards it would be ludicrously unfair and impossible to demand them to hold to.

Jimmy Savile’s innocent. Why do crapulons fail to accept that?

37. Charlieman

35. George Potter:

I do not bother.

@ Charlieman

Thornavis is a an enterist from the deceased RCP. Whatever gender, I suggest to fuck off.

What’s that all about? Thornavis was debating with you perfectly civilly and you come out with that?

Be ashamed.

Lee @22

Because the intention is that you should belong to a regulator, for the liberties and freedoms of those that are wrongfully targeted. They need to be considered too. However the government has stopped short of making it a requirement, people can choose to play fast and loose, that is their choice.

What do you mean “wrongfully targeted”? Who decides? The regulator presumably?

All laws which involve the threat and use of exemplary damages are quite wrong. Damages should be appropriate to the harm caused and a judge in court is perfectly capable of assessing this.

Where juries have been trusted to come up with figures to include punitive damages, they have been wildly excessive, completely unrelated to reality.

If the legislation is enacted, my prediction is that the giants of the main stream press etc will all buy the insurance policy of regulation because they cannot cope with the unlimited uncertainty of the downside of not doing so.

This leaves only the smaller publishers (and perhaps the odd larger publisher with some balls) exposed to the threat of unlimited damages and I can envisage no win no fee lawyers, hoping to hit the jackpot, funding libel actions on behalf of everyone who feels they have been insulted.

Happy days…..

Incidentally, anyone interested in the above debate should be also concerned about the apparent arrest of Old Holborn, who is an occasional commenter here, for comments he made relating to Liverpudlians on Twitter last week.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-22216613

Whether or not he is currently behind bars is not known for sure (I bet there will be some round here who hope he is) but his blog, twitter account and facebook page have all been removed from the net along with the Twitter accounts of some of his “mates”.

I’m sure that used to be called “censorship”, didn’t it?

40. the a&e charge nurse

[39] The formula is very simple and its not as if Joe Bloggs was not already warned ….. ‘inappropriate and offensive’ comments = jail.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-19869710

Nobody will be allowed to upset anybody – surely this is a triumph for ‘regulation’?

@39 The Twitter and Facebook problem has been known for at least two years prior to this current legislation and relates more to the public order act and District Judges trained by the Queen of Hearts from Wonderland.

Or was it the Malicious communications act 1988? One of the two.

43. the a&e charge nurse

[41] true, but there is something slightly ironic about the police dropping in on a blogger for an alleged hillsborough related offence.

Maybe OH would not be making comments about scousers if the police, politicos and MSM had not taken over 20 years to wake up to their complicity in the disaster.

@Charlieman

Male gender actually in case you need to know that for the purpose of further insults, have you been taking p.diddy’s correspondence course ?

@ A&E

Nobody will be allowed to upset anybody – surely this is a triumph for ‘regulation’?

Well it’s certainly one of the places regulation is taking us.

Maybe not even the scariest one.

@Charlieman, again.

You’re right though I do tend to ramble a bit in my comments and not punctuate as well as I might but there we are we can’t all be George Orwell. If I promise to sign up with the comments regulator will you in return refrain from taking me to court and demanding exemplary damages for offending your literary sensibilities ?

On the BBC World At One today, most terrorists reportedly begin as the result of radicalisation through using computers in their bedrooms: even their own families didn’t know. Try this report on: Countering Online Radicalisation – a strategy for action:
http://icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/1236768491ICSROnlineRadicalisationReport.pdf

King Herod the Great had an effective approach to anticipated threats to his rule. In that immortal phrase: There are lessons to be learned.

Thornuanus
“Male gender actually in case you need to know that for the purpose of further insults, have you been taking p.diddy’s correspondence course ?”
You are a sensitive soul.

49. Churm Rincewind

@ pagar (throughout): My problem with your argument is that on the one hand you say that: “…In my view, there should be no press regulation whatever…” and on the other “…if they tell a lie, that lie should be corrected…there is a perfectly good legal system for the libelled person to access”.

But surely that “perfectly good legal system” (which you seem to support) is, to all intents and purposes, a regulation of the press (which you seem to oppose)?

50. douglas clark

Sunny,

Just asking.

Would your proposed legislation have stopped an alleged friend of Arkan from attempting to silence an alternative point of view?

Would it have allowed a fairly rich person to have attempted to silence other, less rich people?

Would the legislation stop the rich reaching for lawyers especially when they are hiding behind jurisprudence?

You should read this:

http://nationalcollective.com/2013/04/20/our-statements-legal-response-to-ian-taylorvitol-group/

But that is just Scottish shit, isn’t it?

Sunny, wake up and smell the coffee.

@ Churm

But surely that “perfectly good legal system” (which you seem to support) is, to all intents and purposes, a regulation of the press (which you seem to oppose)?

Not at all.

Everyone should be free to write and publish what they wish providing what they say harms nobody else OR is truthful.

When somebody publishes something which is untruthful, and harms someone else, that person has the right to seek redress through the courts for the damage they have sustained.

The libel law.

What the regulation seeks to do is to have publishers abrogate their right to freely publish what the wish by conceding control of what they can, and cannot, publish to a third party. And they are being coerced into that abrogation by the threat of exemplary damages if they don’t conform.

Admittedly, it is not as bad as if they were regulated by statute, but it is still the state undermining a basic freedom for its own purposes.

If you think I exaggerate, consider the blatant lies we are told by the mainstream media whenever there is a war.

I am without a doubt anti all media regulation. I don’t think there can ever be an argument for ‘a little’ regulation when it comes to something as vital as freedom of speech/print/reporting.

Where laws are broken by the media, by all means prosecute them. Phone hacking should result in arrests and various other fines for any related breaches, possibly under telecommunications Act. Where a media outlet defames someone, by all means sue them under defamation laws.

However, this is just more regulation, which has already started to become too complex with these caveats. I quite seriously hope this regulation falls on its face. There shouldn’t be a ‘press regulation’. Its information and communication, not a profession.

53. Charlieman

@38. pagar: ‘@ Charlieman

Thornavis is a an enterist from the deceased RCP. Whatever gender, I suggest to fuck off.

What’s that all about? Thornavis was debating with you perfectly civilly and you come out with that?

Be ashamed.’

Fair cop, Pagar. Whilst disagreeing with much of your philosophy, I acknowledge your sincerity. I don’t feel the same way about Thornavis but that does not excuse my intemperate abuse.


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