Thursday, March 21, 2013

Leveson Policy Needs to be Reviewed for Bloggers

As Chairman of Enquiry of the ongoing investigation into the practices, culture and ethics of the press, Lord Leveson wants to regulate the print media. He has suggested that judges should have the power to award full costs and ‘exemplary damages’ against any unregulated publishers.

Having worked in publishing in the past, for the DMGT and Associated Press for 7 years, I’ve been keeping a casual eye on this. What he's proposing are fairly strict measures, and the press need them (not Associated I must add, to my knowledge) but this policy is steeped in ambiguity. It's very possible Lord L only ever saw this new legislation applying to the large and unwieldy print publishers and not to websites (unless they belonged to these publishers), but that’s not something that’s made it into the small print.

incredible naivety

What I’m seeing now, in the current proposal before the House of Lords on Monday, is that these regulations apply to any size of publishers and are going to apply to all UK websites. This is totally bonkers. They also appear to apply to anyone who generates content for (and publishes) a blog. This could have extreme repercussions, with ordinary blog publishes and small businesses potentially falling foul of crippling regulation and forcing many to stop the publishing that is an essential part of their SEO, community support, and content marketing. If there's more than one author of the blog, it looks like they'll also be forced to join a 'self regulator'. You can see a list of the current rulings, and their wording, here.

It seems to me that this policy needs to be seriously reviewed. There's serious lack of clarity in the current proposal, and wording and delivery like this is frankly naive in relation to the developing digital landscape of UK business.

As stand alone entities, websites where never a part of the phone hacking scandal. They shouldn't be required to be crow-barred into self-regulation in this way. It’s frankly crazy, and this needs to be reviewed before going before the House of Lords on Monday.

If you feel as I do, please take a look at the facts and consider adding your signature to the Open Rights Group campaign on this matter.

Every signature helps, and even if it doesn't it'll make us feel like we tried.

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