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UK Bloggers Could Face Libel Fines Unless Registered As Press

timothy posted about a year ago | from the cult-of-permission dept.

Censorship 394

Diamonddavej writes "The Guardian warns that Bloggers in the U.K. could face costly fines for libel with exemplary damages imposed if they do not sign up with a new press regulator under legislation (Clause 21A — Awards of exemplary damages) recommended by The Leveson Inquiry into press behavior and ethics. Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship, said this a 'sad day' for British democracy. 'This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people's web use.' Exemplary damages, imposed by a court to penalize publishers who remain outside regulation, could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, easily enough to close down smaller publishers such as Private Eye and local newspapers. Harry Cole, who contributes to the Guido Fawkes blog says he does not want to join a regulator, he hopes his blog will remain as irreverent and rude as ever, and continue to hold public officials to account; its servers are located in the U.S. Members of Parliament voted on Clause 21A late last night, it passed 530 to 13."

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394 comments

OUTRAGE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214431)

I demand all nations of the earth conform to the American rule of law!

Re:OUTRAGE! (2, Insightful)

xevioso (598654) | about a year ago | (#43214543)

At least on matters of freedom of the press, I agree with you.

Hey Limeys, what do you think of our First Amendment now?

Re:OUTRAGE! (5, Insightful)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#43214587)

Hey Limeys, what do you think of our First Amendment now?

I'll let you know when Congress actually starts respecting it.

Re:OUTRAGE! (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year ago | (#43215097)

That's why we have the supreme court. It would be nice like, in France, the equivalent of the supreme court went over legislation before it became law, but the system still works here. A bad law gets torn apart until it's good. The communications decency act being a good one. Section 530 [wikipedia.org] is a good thing.

Re:OUTRAGE! (2)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#43215249)

A bad law gets torn apart until it's good.

Like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the endless ways in which it is twisted and abused.

Re:OUTRAGE! (2, Insightful)

bazmail (764941) | about a year ago | (#43214691)

You do know that the First Amendment has been eroded to the point of irrelevance right? There are so many exceptions, ifs, buts etc in various pieces of legislation that "The First Amendment" nothing more than a drunken 4th of July trailer park war cry. Your smugness when referring to TFA is as funny as it is worrying.

Re:OUTRAGE! (2, Informative)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year ago | (#43214951)

Like what exceptions? In Europe just the other day, a guy was sentenced to jail [digitaljournal.com] for tearing up a Qur'an. Let me know when that happens in the US. Short of intellectual property and direct, imminent, incitement to violence, there are no significant restrictions. Even defamation is a tort, while in many countries, it's a criminal act.

Re:OUTRAGE! (4, Informative)

Soluzar (1957050) | about a year ago | (#43214835)

I think that like the rest of your constitution, it sounds great in theory. In practice your constitution means almost nothing, and was described as "just a piece of paper" by one of your recent presidents.

Re:OUTRAGE! (4, Insightful)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year ago | (#43214897)

Thankfully, in our system of government, while the president is free to hold such a belief, he does not actually have the power to enforce it, and either does congress short of amending the constitution.

Re:OUTRAGE! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43214991)

He couldn't have really been one of our presidents. Nobody seems to have voted for him.

Just another Zombie invasion. We're getting a bit used to them.

Re:OUTRAGE! (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year ago | (#43215241)

At least as far as freedom of speech goes, US is still way ahead of most European countries, even with all the erosion of rights that has been going on. At least Americans don't have that ridiculous notion of "hate speech".

(I am not an American)

Re:OUTRAGE! (2)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#43215021)

Check out which media mogul is leading the charge against these laws in both the UK and Australia... Rupert. I'm guessing that most of the stories in the MSM against these reforms are being led by News Ltd.

Re:OUTRAGE! (0)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year ago | (#43215119)

You need not guess: this is actually the case. I guess they are really worried they might have to stop lying outright, meaning their political power will be reduced.

I personally think freedom of the press is really important, but that you do not have a right to publish lies. It may be that determining what is and is not true should not in general be determined by political power, but this does not mean that there should be no oversight nor that you should be allowed to own your own propaganda platform disguised as a news organisation.

You get what you ask for (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214439)

This is what happens when the government asks you to register before exercising rights. Most think "Ah, heh, there's no problem asking someone to register before getting a gun." And then wind forward a bit, and you find you are being asked to register before you deliver critical speech. It all happens an inch at a time. And make no mistake, it'll happen here too.

Any hurdle the government puts in place for the second amendment (guns) can easily be put in place for the first amendment (speech). Look at the UK. They banned guns a while ago, and now they are requiring you to register before you write something on the internet?

They get what they ask for.

Re:You get what you ask for (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214545)

If you pay attention, most of the people who were outspoken against press regulation were the big-money media companies. Funny that, isn't it, an industry that has proven to be out of control is against any regulation. So, let me ask you this, whose side are you on, that of Murdoch and the Fox Empire, or that of the general public who have been hacked, wire-tapped, lied to and abused by the press?

Re:You get what you ask for (3, Insightful)

MrMickS (568778) | about a year ago | (#43214767)

If you pay attention, most of the people who were outspoken against press regulation were the big-money media companies. Funny that, isn't it, an industry that has proven to be out of control is against any regulation. So, let me ask you this, whose side are you on, that of Murdoch and the Fox Empire, or that of the general public who have been hacked, wire-tapped, lied to and abused by the press?

So, use the existing laws to punish the wrongdoers, which is what is happening regarding the phone 'hacking' that led to the Leveson enquiry which provided the recommendations that this law is based on. If the press, and by implication bloggers, are subject to government censorship there is no democracy.

Its no surprise that its the left of the political debate that is in favour of additional laws to control the press. Its alright though, they've got our best interests at heart. Just like when they wanted to introduce ID cards, and road pricing (vehicle tracking).

Re:You get what you ask for (1, Interesting)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#43215069)

Perhaps you would like to explain what is inherently wrong with ID cards, and road pricing... without descending into hysterics without justification?

Re:You get what you ask for (2, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43214787)

Whose side are you on, people who only claim there's only two sides or everyone else?

Re:You get what you ask for (3, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43214893)

On matters of censorship, there are only two sides. You're either for it or against it. The choice to act is what matters, not the motivation (rationalization)

Re:You get what you ask for (1, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43215055)

Not everything is so black and white as "for it or against it". You can be for it in some cases (IE: hate speech) and against it in others (IE: fact-based criticism). Or you can just not care either way, in which case you'd be neither for nor against.

Re:You get what you ask for (4, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43215197)

"hate speech" is bullshit. Arrest the followers, the guy will the rope, or driving the pickup. A human can resist temptation.

Re:You get what you ask for (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43214933)

"There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't." - Robert Benchley

Re:You get what you ask for (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#43215047)

As long as they guarantee the right within reasonable boundaries, what's the problem with registering...? Unless you believe that your government is already fascist, in which case it's too late to worry about it.

Re:You get what you ask for (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year ago | (#43215245)

You are a crazy person for conflating the right to bear arms (a uniquely American thing which the rest of the world sees with incomprehension and disgust) and the freedom of press which is enshrined in the international charter of Human rights (a fundamental right everyone thinks is really important unless they are Putin).

Also, I don't see how there is any value in allowing any organisation to pass things which are demonstrably lies as true news, nor how the "freedom of the press" somehow trumps the right to privacy. Regulation is difficult, but necessary. It should be possible to seek redress and obtain retraction/damages when a news organisation willingly lied about something.

I will go further. If you are a blogger, you are potentially a news organisation: you are publishing information for a very large public. This information may be about the best way to cook burgers, or it may be about the fact that you saw some politician/relative thereof in a compromising situation. If this is the latter, this better be true and not violate their privacy, otherwise what you are doing is immoral. And if it were illegal, that may not be a bad thing.

Otherwise, you are basically complaining about the fact that you are not allowed to propagate any rumour online which your deranged imagination came up with. Suck it up.

Re:You get what you ask for (1)

epine (68316) | about a year ago | (#43215263)

It all happens an inch at a time. And make no mistake, it'll happen here too.

Before informing us with your trademark wisdom that rain arrives in droplets and not sheets, may I suggest you get yourself a username? If you're only AC because you're short on ideas, I doubt "putsch" is taken. The +1 funny mods will swell your karma, inch by inch, make no mistake.

Libel Fines (3, Insightful)

whencanistop (1224156) | about a year ago | (#43214477)

Bloggers in the UK could face libel fines even if they are registered as Press. That's the whole point of the regulator - it is there to force a set of known penalties on a press organisation if they do anything libellous through a known set of processes. If you're outside the regulator the penalties are unknown and the process could be expensive. It's not really any different to the current situation if you are outside the regulator.

Personally I think it is a great day for democracy. The people wanted this. They voted in a Government that did an independent enquiry and then actioned those recommendations. You can't get much more democratic than that.

Re:Libel Fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214517)

Yep, tyranny of the majority at its finest.

Re:Libel Fines (5, Insightful)

MrLint (519792) | about a year ago | (#43214527)

Just because you have a democratically elected govt does not mean that their actions are in the spirit of or advance the cause of democracy.

Re:Libel Fines (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214609)

Even if it was it doesn't make the action correct. Minority rights are just as important in a free society as is the will of the majority. Ochlocracy (mob rule) or the later version "tyranny of the majority" is just as bad as any tyrannical dictator or monarch.

Re:Libel Fines (0)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43214903)

Democracy is the rule of the majority. The rightful rulers can't be tyrants by the definition of the term. Tyranny of the majority in democracy is a paradox based on the delusion that democracy is anything but this.

Re:Libel Fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214967)

"rightful rulers" What the hell are you talking about?

tyranny
  Use Tyranny in a sentence
tyranny /trni/ Show Spelled [tir-uh-nee] Show IPA
noun, plural tyrannies.
1.
arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority. Synonyms: despotism, absolutism, dictatorship.
2.
the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
3.
a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
4.
oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
5.
undue severity or harshness.

Re:Libel Fines (0)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#43215091)

Congratulations, you've just proven fredprado's point. There is no tyranny when the majority rules.

Re:Libel Fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43215145)

Asserting a thing does not equal proving an argument.

Arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power has nothing to do with numerical support.

"rightful rulers" who decides this? Calling something a paradox without any supporting evidence... of yeah I can really see where the idiots point is proven.

Fuckface.

Re:Libel Fines (3, Insightful)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year ago | (#43215305)

You misunderstand the notion of the rule of law and separation of powers. Even in Switzerland, a very direct democracy, the sovereign (aka the people) is still subject to the constitution, itself subordinated to international agreements and obligations, has no executive power and the interpretation of the laws is the job of professional judges.

This is how you get democracy without a dictatorship of the majority. Interestingly, this process is most easily perverted when the media is owned by a restricted clique (I am not thinking about any Australian billionaire, here), thus the need for regulation.

Checks and balances FTW!

Re:Libel Fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214921)

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights
cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. Ayn Rand

Re:Libel Fines (1)

whencanistop (1224156) | about a year ago | (#43214935)

I'd definitely agree with that, however I don't think that is the case here. You still have a freedom to "print" whatever you want as long as it can be seen that you have gone to some lengths to prove it is true and retracted when it isn't. Plus you have to be able to show that you got the information in a legal way (with Whistleblower rights).

I'd argue that overly powerful media moguls pushing their political stance without regulation was less in the spirit of or advance the cause of democracy, wouldn't you say?

Re:Libel Fines (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#43214561)

Personally I think it is a great day for democracy. The people wanted this.

If the people wanted this then why did the government have to vote on this at 10:30 at night?

Re:Libel Fines (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43215049)

If the people wanted this then why did the government have to vote on this at 10:30 at night?

Dancing with Stars was over?

Re:Libel Fines (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#43215239)

If the people wanted this then why did the government have to vote on this at 10:30 at night?

Dancing with Czars was over?

Because that is when the people wanted it.

Re:Libel Fines (1)

raburton (1281780) | about a year ago | (#43214579)

And remember that fines are a punishment for doing something wrong (no difference here from any other crime/punishment model). If you stick to reporting the truth you'll be fine. Ideally have evidence for this, although that isn't necessary unless anyone tries to make a claim against you (in which case you'll need to find that evidence to defend yourself). If you want to report lies or harmful speculation then you deserve punishing.

Re:Libel Fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214645)

And if you aren't a terrorist you don't have to worry about your privacy rights, right?

Because we all know laws like this never get abused to shut down dissenting view points or censor unpopular speech, right? No, that has never happened even once.

Re:Libel Fines (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214725)

Irrelevant.

In the UK, the truth is not a valid defence. You are still commiting libel even if your statement was 100% true, because you caused injury to someone's reputation.

Absurd, yes, but it's the reason why the UK has such a bad reputation when it comes to Libel Laws.

Re:Libel Fines (5, Informative)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year ago | (#43214765)

Uhm, no, you've got that backwards. In the UK, the truth is *always* a valid defence. If you were telling the truth, you will always win a libel suit - there is no way for you to lose.

The reason the UK has a "bad reputation when it comes to libel laws" is because lawyers think it should be like the American system, where it doesn't matter what the truth is as long as you can pay more money than the other guy.

Re:Libel Fines (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43214827)

What is that thing "truth" that you are talking about? Something that goes with unicorns and elves in fairy tales? If you publish something straight taken from wikileaks, but denied from the government, who will get the libel fines?

Libel is more complicated in the UK (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#43214971)

If you stick to reporting the truth you'll be fine.

I'm not a UK citizen, much less a lawyer, but I remember from some news articles about lawsuits that a critical legal difference between the UK and USA is that unlike the USA, "the truth" is NOT an absolute defense against libel charges.

Though a quick googling shows that some changes were made in 2011, but I'm seeing stuff saying that you still have to be able to PROVE it's true in court in order for it to be a defense, and that the level of proof required can be difficult to meet.

Re:Libel Fines (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43214591)

The people wanted this. They voted in a Government that did an independent enquiry and then actioned those recommendations.

Uh, what?

"The people" voted 'none of the above' in the last British election, but they got a government anyway.

Re:Libel Fines (4, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#43214635)

Personally I think it is a great day for democracy. The people wanted this. They voted in a Government that did an independent enquiry and then actioned those recommendations. You can't get much more democratic than that.

You confuse democracy and civil rights; a common mistake. Asserting, however, that "the people wanted this" is patently absurd. Even setting aside the esoteric (for some) notion that civil rights can and should trump majority rule, I seriously doubt that most voters would have, if asked, been in favor of this monstrous affront to the freedom of expression.

Re:Libel Fines (2)

whencanistop (1224156) | about a year ago | (#43214769)

A YouGov poll from the end of last year [yougov.co.uk] asked:

Q. Which of the following statements comes closer to your view on how you think newspapers in Britain should be regulated?

And 79% said that they would like "an independent body, established by law, which deals with complaints and decides what sanctions there should be if journalists break agreed codes of conduct" (ie what we've got).

Albeit this is a poll and not a democratic process, but the democratic process is there (people vote for a Government, the Government enacts runs independent reviews, the recommendations are enacted upon). The only way this process could have been undemocratic is if an unelected body (like The Press) decided that it should be that way (like they did before).

Re:Libel Fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214899)

And you missed their point. "Democratic" does not equal "right". Tyranny is still tyranny even if the majority supports it.

Re:Libel Fines (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | about a year ago | (#43215095)

A YouGov poll from the end of last year [yougov.co.uk] asked:

Q. Which of the following statements comes closer to your view on how you think newspapers in Britain should be regulated?

And 79% said that they would like "an independent body, established by law, which deals with complaints and decides what sanctions there should be if journalists break agreed codes of conduct" (ie what we've got).

Is it "what we've got?" I think this legislation will do almost all of the above. It's the "independent" part that is an open question.

Re:Libel Fines (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#43215107)

Democratic does not necessary equal right, or just, or fair.

'When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world â" "No, you move."'

Re:Libel Fines (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43215005)

I seriously doubt that most voters would have, if asked, been in favor of this monstrous affront to the freedom of expression.

If? They are asked every election. All these horrible laws and the same party gets reelected every time. I would say the people have spoken, and it only proves they are more reactionary than anything else.

Press publishes a misleading headline... Shocker! (4, Informative)

BenJury (977929) | about a year ago | (#43214763)

Its precisely these sorts of misleading headlines that need to be taken out of the industry. From the actual sodding article entitled "Press regulation deal sparks fears of high libel fines for bloggers":

publisher would have to meet the three tests of whether the publication is publishing news-related material in the course of a business, whether their material is written by a range of authors – this would exclude a one-man band or a single blogger – and whether that material is subject to editorial control.

Re:Libel Fines (1)

starless (60879) | about a year ago | (#43214931)

Perhaps a great day for democracy, but not liberal democracy.
(USAians may need to look up the definition of that.)

Re:Libel Fines (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year ago | (#43214953)

Personally I think it is a great day for democracy. The people wanted this. They voted in a Government that did an independent enquiry and then actioned those recommendations. You can't get much more democratic than that.

Sure you can.

Get rid of those pesky representatives. Have people vote directly on issues. It's rather harder to bribe 50 million people than 500. And we have this technology called "The Internet" - perhaps you've heard of it? - which could make such voting possible.

Sure, we've seen what happens with mob rule and demagoguery (shall I preemptively Godwin my own debate?), but honestly, I'd rather a government take pages from Mad Max and Idiocracy than 1984 and Atlas Shrugged.

Re:Libel Fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214993)

Bloggers in the UK could face libel fines even if they are registered as Press. That's the whole point of the regulator - it is there to force a set of known penalties on a press organisation if they do anything libellous through a known set of processes. If you're outside the regulator the penalties are unknown and the process could be expensive. It's not really any different to the current situation if you are outside the regulator.

Personally I think it is a great day for democracy. The people wanted this. They voted in a Government that did an independent enquiry and then actioned those recommendations. You can't get much more democratic than that.

I can't decide whether you forgot a /sarcasm tag at the end of that or it was supposed to be voted funny. (This is not grounds for libel, I hope)

Well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214483)

this just proves that every member of Parliament is a donkey raping pederast. I read it on the internet so it has to be true. Donkey raping pederasts the lot of em.

Welcome to the FREE WORLD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214509)

UK, USA, Australia, Canada. The so-called "free world".

Democracy will be imposed! (5, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43214515)

> Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship, said this a 'sad day' for British democracy.

and

> Members of Parliament voted on Clause 21A late last night, it passed 530 to 13 .

This is a sad day for freedom, but a wonderful day for democracy.

Rarely do we see the difference, which few acknowledge exists, so starkly highlighted.

Re:Democracy will be imposed! (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#43214637)

Not really a victory for Democracy unless you have the actual citizens voting.

Bought and paid for representatives aren't a measure of true democracy...

Re:Democracy will be imposed! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43215087)

Bought and paid for representatives aren't a measure of true democracy...

Your vote puts them into office, not the money. When these people get reelected time after time, you can't ask for a better metric of democracy at work. And it illustrates perfectly where the real weakness lies.

Mod up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214815)

Democracy and freedom are not as correlated as democratic governments want you to think. Democratic governments only expand throughout their lifetimes, in terms of both revenue and power over the people, never significantly or permanently relinquishing that power or revenue once achieved. History shows this quite clearly, and the US is a textbook example. Freedom is pushing against a tide that only keeps coming in, and never goes back out -- short of civil war or economic catastrophe.

Secondly (and most importantly IMO), freedom preceded government, not the other way around. Freedom is the natural state, and in fact, the very first justification used by every "legitimate" government, democratic or otherwise (i.e. in return for your submission and money, we guarantee you "protection" against those who seek to violate your freedom). But the problem lies in the fact that goverment itself is founded on coercion. Without asserting a special "right" to employ coercion as a business model, no government would exist. Coercion, of course, is the polar opposite of freedom -- the very thing that "breaks" freedom.

And twitter? (1)

fatgraham (307614) | about a year ago | (#43214521)

Seeing as a shockingly large amount of tabloid citation/"content" is from twitter, I presume this will apply to microblogging too?...

Just another largely unenforcable rule which will have little effect on anyone apart from the consumer... I can't imagine the EU cookie law has had much effect other than to annoy us... http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/privacy_and_electronic_communications/the_guide/cookies.aspx [ico.gov.uk]

Libel... (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year ago | (#43214531)

I'm not sure I understand the issue... If you are convicted of libel you have to pay fines, etc. Just make sure that what you write in public is the truth and is backed up by facts. What is so hard about that?

Re:Libel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214601)

I'm not sure I understand the issue... If you are convicted of libel you have to pay fines, etc. Just make sure that what you write in public is the truth and is backed up by facts. What is so hard about that?

These are blogs. On the INTERNET . And you can't see the problem?

WAY TO END THIS REPLY #1:

It's MAGIC and SPECIAL because it's THE INTERNET. We shouldn't be bound by any laws because of our magical specialness. It makes perfect legal sense because internet. Therefore, this is an outrage!

WAY TO END THIS REPLY #2:

If all sites on the internet had to stop spreading libel and similar lies, there wouldn't be any internet left to read.

Re:Libel... (2, Interesting)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43214617)

IANAL.

It is my understanding that the UK even if something is true if you say it with the intent of damaging someone it is still actionable.

Read that again. Saying something true and damaging is actionable if you intend it to hurt their reputation.

It's pure bullshit designed only to shut down speech by anyone without a staff shyster.

Re:Libel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214629)

Truth according to who?

Re:Libel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43215237)

Simon Singh was sued for Libel by the British Chiropractic society for writing in The Guardian that the practice of Chiropractic is rubbish. A judge initially agreed at a pre-trial hearing that his article expressed facts, not an opinion, so it headed for an expensive full jury trial. But he appealed and won, NOT because what he said was backed up with facts (that would have come out in a jury trial), but a another hearing reversed the earlier adjudication and ruled his article expressed opinion not fact and was fair comment.

British Libel law is rather odd. You get sued for stating facts and can escape libel if you can get a court to accept that you just stated an opinion e.g. that's how Tesla lost their libel case against Top Gear. All this is besides the point, a blogger can afford the legal expenses Simon Singh and Top Gear encountered.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214541)

Who better to disseminate information?

Educated experts motivated by the public good, or some rabble rouser in their basement?

Freedom of expression (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43214559)

They want to license you so that they can regulate you and thus censor you. That's all there is to it. It's one of the oldest tricks in the government's book. Make something illegal unless you have a government license to do it and then ensure that those who violate the license are prosecuted. While this does no longer apply to the bankers of the 'too big to fail' banks who also have licenses, that's because bankers are part of the government structure and so they are too big to fail and are also too big to jail regardless of what laws they break.

On the other hand talking about bankers and government officials and the laws they break is something that IS going to be punished and the government just wants to ensure that it has enough means, enough of a book to throw at you by forcing you to license so that you can be forced to behave in a certain manner or else...

Of-course the other part of it is the barrier to entry - this creates monopoly, as all government rules, regulations, taxes and even inflation (money printing and handing it to the preferred people) do. Very few people, relatively speaking, will apply for the license and comply with the costs and barriers needed to obtain it.

This is why you don't want government with all this power running your life, you'll eventually end up in prison, even if you are not physically within 4 walls and a barred window.

Bloggers won't be included in this (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214599)

From last night's debate over the very clause this story references:

"Three interlocking tests will apply ... They ask whether the publication is publishing news-related material in the course of a business, whether its material is written by a range of authors and whether that material is subject to editorial control. This provision aims to protect small-scale bloggers and the like."

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2013-03-18a.697.2#g703.4

Re:Bloggers won't be included in this (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43214647)

And you believe them?

Besides, once this law is entrenched, removing any such limitations will be trivial.

Oh dear, I made a 'slippery slope' argument and that's apparently a logical fallacy so it could never, ever happen. How silly I am.

Re:Bloggers won't be included in this (1)

Epeeist (2682) | about a year ago | (#43214713)

Besides, once this law is entrenched, removing any such limitations will be trivial.

Except if you read the legislation it will take a 2/3 majority in both houses of parliament to change the law.

Re:Bloggers won't be included in this (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43214817)

Except if you read the legislation it will take a 2/3 majority in both houses of parliament to change the law.

Yeah, that'll work.

If the government could restrict future changes to laws, it would add 'this law can never be changed' to the end of every law it passed.

Re:Bloggers won't be included in this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43215079)

If the government could restrict future changes to laws, it would add 'this law can never be changed' to the end of every law it passed.

It's not possible to have a law that the UK parliament cannot alter, due to parliamentary supremacy. However it is very possible (actually fairly common) to have laws that require a 'supermajority' of 2/3 to amend.

Re:Bloggers won't be included in this (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | about a year ago | (#43215215)

So they add a clause changing the law into some "fluff" bill that is guaranteed to pass without fanfare, like a "Flags and Puppies For War Orphans" bill or a "Congratulations to the X School Football Team for its Victory over Y School in Such-and-such Tournament" bill. The fluff bill gets approved unanimously, and the tacked on piece makes anyone who writes more than ten words on a subject into a member of the "press" and subject to this law.

The problem is not with the blogs (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43214615)

The problem is not that blogs operating like newspapers are treated as such. Online journalism shouldn't be in a different category just because it's on the internet. The problem is that journalism in its entirety is being limited.

Scaremongering by a currupt/frightened UK press... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214639)

They are trying hard to make this seem like its a crackdown on mr. Joe Average at home with his blog, to cause outrage amongst the low intelligence masses. They are so frightened about being held to a certain standard that the poisonous disinformation campaign they are are now running would only convince a gullible moron.

Wake up Slashdot, you're being manipulated by Ye Olde Media.

Libel and Private Correspondence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214661)

Say a UK citzen were to engage in online private correspondence with a person or entity outside the UK's juridiction, and that person or entity published that citizen's private correspondence. Would the UK citizen still be guilty of libel?

Nice! (4, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#43214687)

1. Create a blog. (should take 4 minutes)
2. Register
3. Get a Press Card
4. Go to plays and concerts for free.*

*That's the profit part.

Ummm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214699)

Um Tor, go fuck yourself big brother

Notice something interesting? (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year ago | (#43214723)

I am no expert on media or British libel law, but something tells me that if Rupert Murdoch and his toadies are fighting so rabidly and foaming at the mouth so much at this royal charter, then it must be a good thing.

All this legislation means, is that a lot of rightwing douchebags who previously think they're invincible and can destroy peoples' lives at whim, are finally brought to heel. No more threats to destroy politicians, no more special pleading, no more backroom deals with the Prime Minister and cabinet in Number 10, and no more special treatment for Establishment-connected bloggers and Tweeters.

Rupert Murdoch is addicted to wielding and abusing his considerable power. He's afraid of losing control, which is why his propaganda machine has gone into overdrive.

Re:Notice something interesting? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43214883)

I am no expert on media or British libel law, but something tells me that if Rupert Murdoch and his toadies are fighting so rabidly and foaming at the mouth so much at this royal charter, then it must be a good thing.

All this legislation means, is that a lot of rightwing douchebags who previously think they're invincible and can destroy peoples' lives at whim, are finally brought to heel. No more threats to destroy politicians, no more special pleading, no more backroom deals with the Prime Minister and cabinet in Number 10, and no more special treatment for Establishment-connected bloggers and Tweeters.

Rupert Murdoch is addicted to wielding and abusing his considerable power. He's afraid of losing control, which is why his propaganda machine has gone into overdrive.

Really, the rightwing is the group you are accusing of using the press to destroy people? There may be some of the right that do sink to such levels but it does not even come close to what the left does to people they don't agree with.

Google Santorum sometime and read what you get there, just don't do it from a work computer....

I am so sick of the left accusing the right of doing what the left does daily.

Re:Notice something interesting? (2, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year ago | (#43214965)

The Left *does't* have the blood of a million people on its hands.

The Left *didn't* access the voicemail of a raped/murdered schoolgirl, tricking her family and investigators into thinking she was still alive.

The owners of the left-wing media *hasn't* scored private meetings with the Prime Minister in Number 10 to lobby for war on brown people.

The Left *certainly* hasn't driven people to their deaths through intrusion and harrasment for profit.

Rick Santorum got a little mockery on the Internet. But according to this wingnut, that's worst than a million dead. Nice going mate.

Re:Notice something interesting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43215233)

What are you talking about the "Left" not having the blood of millions on its hands?

Have you heard of Stalin, Hitler or Mao all in the Communist/Socialist Lefty side of the political spectrum, so I guess the millions killed in the Holocaust, Russian and Chinese revolutions and political opponents thereafter don't count.

Re:Notice something interesting? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#43215195)

Even if this fixes every issue you mentioned it is not worth giving up your freedom of speech for.

it's almost as if... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#43214865)

Looking for my tinfoil hat... not in that drawer... not in the bookcase... THERE it is behind the monitor. A little wrinkled, one moment. (rustle) There.

Wow, it's as if, had the recent media scandals not existed, it would have been necessary to invent them.

Misconception (1)

lcam (848192) | about a year ago | (#43215075)

Just because they sign up does not mean they are except from liability.

Bloggers in the UK are just as likely to be liable, the only difference is going to be whether they followed the conduct requirements established for the press if they happen to have signed up.

Basically a blogger is trading 6 for half-a-dozen by signing up. IMO

From the government angle, freedom has been infringed, they win either way.

Bad Title Bad Summary (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#43215135)

UK Bloggers Could Face Libel Fines Unless Registered As Press

Even publishers who have registered could face exemplary fines; it is just a little higher standard. Look at the legislation [theyworkforyou.com] ;

(2) Exemplary damages may not be awarded against the defendant in respect of the claim if the defendant was a member of an approved regulator at the material time.

(3) But the court may disregard subsection (2) if—

(a) the approved regulator imposed a penalty on the defendant in respect of the defendant’s conduct or decided not to do so,

(b) the court considers, in light of the information available to the approved regulator when imposing the penalty or deciding not to impose one, that the regulator was manifestly irrational in imposing the penalty or deciding not to impose one, and

(c) the court is satisfied that, but for subsection (2), it would have made an award of exemplary damages under this section against the defendant.

Subsection 3 basically negates most "protection" from exemplary damages by registered publishers. Subsection 2 states exemplary damages can not be awarded against a registered publisher but subsection 3 shows how the court can disregard Subsection 2. Yes it is harder to impose exemplary damages but it still can happen. The other thing that is missing from this whole discussion is that the regulator can impose damages too that could be as much as the exemplary damages.

Basically what subsection 2 and 3 state is that publishers should be fined by their regulators and not the court unless the court believed the regulator was "manifestly irrational". This protects publishers who register with a regulator from being fined twice except under extraordinary circumstances.

The other thing they ignore is Clause 29 [theyworkforyou.com] which defines what a "relevant publisher" is.

(1) In sections [Awards of exemplary damages] to [Awards of costs], “relevant publisher” means a person who, in the course of a business (whether or not carried on with a view to profit), publishes news-related material—
(a) which is written by different authors, and
(b) which is to any extent subject to editorial control.

A blogger is usually a single person and there is no editorial control so most bloggers would not be a relevant publisher. By the way there is a clause that protects web sites as well.

(3) A person who is the operator of a website is not to be taken as having editorial or equivalent responsibility for the decision to publish any material on the site, or for content of the material, if the person did not post the material on the site.
(4) The fact that the operator of the website may moderate statements posted on it by others does not matter for the purposes of subsection (3).

That clause also stipulates a list of exempt publishers under Schedule 5 [theyworkforyou.com] .

Special interest titles

4 A person who publishes a title that—

(a) relates to a particular pastime, hobby, trade, business, industry or profession, and
(b) only contains news-related material on an incidental basis that is relevant to the main content of the title.

I bet most bloggers would fall in this category.

What clause 21A sets forth are the circumstances under which a relevant publisher can be charges exemplary damages by the courts. Under Clause 29 and Schedule 5 it would be very difficult to categorizes a blogger as a relevant publisher. This is yet another tempest in a teapot brought on by reporting that only shows the salacious part of a story.

Slogan time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43215157)

When you want freedom, you hope the rules will be good. When you are free, the rules are irrelevant.

Before you jump to defend freedom... (1)

Ga_101 (755815) | about a year ago | (#43215181)

Are you aware of what has gone on to result in this regulation? Look it up.

"The Press" in the UK has systematically abused it's position. It has acted as if it were beyond the law and society as a whole. Having been skating on thin ice for more than a decade, hacking of phones of both the weak and the powerful was the final straw.

Alas, this law is the unfortunate consequence of their own actions. I would gladly solicit better suggestions to tackle this issue. How do you reign in a press drunk with power in a free society?

Re:Before you jump to defend freedom... (2)

AdmV0rl0n (98366) | about a year ago | (#43215337)

Listen,

I'm kinda sick of this horseshit. If someone breaks the law, or if a corp or company breaks the law - then_you_already_have_legal_premise. And thus far I see lots of people have been investigated, and have been dealt with.
Nowhere is this a basis for turning round and eliminating, or wiping out a free press. Why would anyone be unhinged enough to not understand that MP's and 'famous' people have decided to have their pound of flesh and gain revenge. Only this is a revenge on everyone. Its detrimental to our world and our way of life.

And be clear about something else - BEFORE this round of lunacy, the UK ALREADY has the some of the world's most ludicrous and insane libel laws.

I understand what the MPs and famous people are complaining about. I understand that applying the law is tedious. However, this brings shame on them and our society. Destroying freedom to presumably have freedom doesn't function. I expect more of the MPs.

I hope the press globally simply refuse to sign up. And the same for all bloggers and free people.

Blair scumbags will shill this story (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43215287)

Tony Blair never left (real) power in the UK. His extremist policies sometimes failed to get traction under a 'Labour' government, but those that he could not get through before are now being smashed into Law by the LibLabCon alliance.

The filth that post here to say British people voted for these policies take advantage of the ignorance of the average Slashdot reader. Actually, both the Conservatives and Liberals promised to reverse many of Labour's most extreme police state policies, and then 12+ months later reintroduced ever more draconian versions of Blair's policies- this time with the support of the three main parties.

News organisations are reeling in shock at the recent announcement by the LibConLab government's intent to include the entire internet under the most draconian regulation of the press the Human race has ever experienced. The ONLY exception on the internet is for lone bloggers whose page includes ONLY their own authored content (no comments- no quotes), and whose content suffers no external moderation. Essentially the definition of a 'tweet'.

The British government set up an enquiry into 'press freedoms' that concluded that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES must regulation fall upon the internet in general (Blair shills will lie about web site analogues to British newspapers, but actually these are already covered by existing press regulation, with the full agreement and co-operation of the publishers involved). After the results were published, the LibConLab government stated that it was essential that ALL political comment and opinion on the Internet be controlled and censored- especially that found on independent forums or alternate news sites. Think Saudi or NK censorship to the power infinity.

Here's a story for you Slashdotters. A few days ago a young woman was given a massive fine for protesting the Prime Minister at a public event. She attended a PR stunt for Blair's dingle-berry Cameron (PM in name, Britain's real PM is actually the Liberal leader), where said scumbag was due to 'switch on' the Xmas lights. She held a placard and was highlighting the sickening attacks on the disabled made daily by Cameron- attacks that have led to the suicide of many of them. So, she tries to get close, and shouts "you have blood on your hands". Cameron's plain closed goons smash her to the ground and give her a good beating. Later, she gets a court summons. In court she is convicted and punished for causing 'distress' to Cameron by shouting those words.

Blair's shills will hope you are too lazy to google this story- and thus will lie about the reason for her conviction. However, multiple news-sites quote the judge EXPLICITLY stating that she was guilty under the distress and harassment laws that British people were also told would NEVER effect the political activity of ordinary people.

British newspapers ARE the establishment. They are all owned by people who cheer every time an Israeli death squad butchers another family in Gaza. Rupert Murdoch is Blair's Goebbels. Clearly Blair doesn't need to regulate himself or his team.

Today, Blair used chemical warheads in Syria for the first time. He can rest assured that British newspapers will spin that new atrocity in his favour. Independent web-sites, on the other hand, disseminate the truth in direct contradiction to Murdoch and the BBC's carefully composed lies. What use is Blair's police state when everyone is one click away from learning the facts about the genocidal war-criminal, and his current crimes against Humanity.

Once in place, Blair's new powers against the Internet will follow a predictable path. The BBC will create TV shows where outraged people rant about insulting content online. "These sites MUST be held accountable" they'll dribble - and by 'accountable' they mean massive self-censorship, repeatedly paying fines and penalties of tens of thousands of pounds, and closing down.

It is notable that the official Blair shill, 'whencanitstop', has the promoted comment at the top of this forum, scored '5'. 5 minutes after this IP is noted, Slashdot's owners will ensure this post has '-1'. The irony is that I'm only commenting after seeing a BBC clip where the journo expressed amazement and outrage at the inclusion of the Internet over the specific recommendation of the government's own enquiry.

The shill 'whencanitstop' relies on the fact that most people are completely uninformed about the facts.

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