We saw publication at the end of last week of what is already being dubbed “McLeveson”. This Scottish response to the Leveson Report makes remarkable reading. Contained within its urbane and staid language are proposals which could lead to regulation of all bloggers and tweeters in Scotland, where they comment, to any extent, on news of any sort and “gossip” about the famous.
The suggestions could see people being hauled in front of a Regulator to answer for tweets or blog posts, even where they were simply re-tweeting something else, for example.
In addition, there are worrying cost implications. Indeed the suggestion seems to be that all “significant news publishers” may have to chip in for the costs of the Regulator. The proposed definition of “significant” does mean only the major newspapers in Scotland. No. It could be me, or you, especially if you comment here or on other sites.
And we have another example of the apparent wish of the Scottish Government to extend its reach far and wide, as detailed below. Continue reading
Despite the topic, this is to be a short post (EDITOR – the road to hell is paved with good intentions). After all, as I was saying to a friend today, as my summaries are generally longer than what I am précising, Lord Justice Leveson’s full report of 2,000 pages might take me 4,000 pages to recap!
Instead I want to look at the regulation of bloggers. Leveson LJ addresses this from page 168 of Volume A.
He heard evidence from people responsible for websites including the Guido Fawkes political blog, Popbitch, which is a celebrity gossip site and the Huffington Post – effectively an online-only newspaper.
Lord Justice Leveson on Bloggers
He says, in describing the above at Chapter 3 para 4.6:-
These vastly different sites are all offered to the public in the same way; they all have the same theoretical reach to the entire internet-connected population at the touch of a button (particularly when facilitated by search engines). They are also, with the regulatory exceptions set out above, entirely unregulated, though subject to civil and criminal law in appropriate jurisdictions. However, it is noteworthy that although the blogs cited here are read by very large numbers of people, it should not detract from the fact that most blogs are read by very few people. Indeed, most blogs are rarely read as news or factual, but as opinion and must be considered as such.
As we have seen with issues as diverse as the false accusations against Lord McAlpine, and the riots in England in 2011, there are legal consequences under the civil and criminal law for those who overstep the bounds. Continue reading