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Europe To Force Right of Reply On Internet Communication

Hemos posted more than 11 years ago | from the you-must-be-able-to-respond dept.

The Internet 825

David Buck writes "Today, the Council of Europe (an influential quasi-governmental body that drafts conventions and treaties) is to finalize a proposal that would force all Internet news organizations, moderated mailing lists and even web logs (blogs) to allow a right of response to any person or organization they criticize. This would mean that you would be required to post the responses as well as authenticate their origin and make the responses available for some period of time. This will likely have a chilling effect on Internet communication (at least in Europe)."

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825 comments

funky priest (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211872)

S L A S H D O T S U C K S

maybe not... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211877)

but fuck you anyway :-)

If this is not the first post... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211879)

...I will cover myserlf in bacon grease and fry myself on the pavement of the local strip mall.

As always, links to pictures will be posted.

so... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212011)

Where are they?

YOU FAIL IT!

So much for freedom of speech (-1, Troll)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211887)

There goes 2000 years of progress of Western Civilization.

Re:So much for freedom of speech (-1, Redundant)

danknight (570145) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211921)

Well, freedom of speech is bad for business and Govt. If we allow people free speech, all life as we know it will cease !

Re:So much for freedom of speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211934)

How exactly does this impede freedom of speech? It's nothing more than is required for other editorialised publications, eg newspapers, and Europe has a far freer press than any other continent.

Re:So much for freedom of speech (1)

hedge_death_shootout (681628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211991)

"Europe has a far freer press than any other continent."

A gross over-generalisation, and probably not true - the USA has a freer press and more freedom of information, dunno about Canada - Mexico I am less confident about.

(BTW, I'm a European)

Re:So much for freedom of speech (5, Insightful)

bmongar (230600) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211942)

So much for freedom of speech

You can still say what you want, you just have to allow the entity you are talking about a chance to reply. This has been 'good practice' in any real journalism for a while. You often see in news stories companyxxx was contacted but refused to reply or gave no comment or something.

No freedom of speach issues here.

Re:So much for freedom of speech (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211999)

Newspapers are under no obligation to print letters to the editor. Generally they will print a retraction if the original article was in error, but they don't have to, and it is then upto the individuals concerned to sue the newspaper in question.

Why should an electronic forum be forced to post a response? Why can't the responder post it on their own website/mailing list/forum as generally happens now?

Re:So much for freedom of speech (2, Informative)

Kamel Jockey (409856) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212033)

you just have to allow the entity you are talking about a chance to reply

This sounds a lot like the old "Fairness Doctrine" that was applied to US radio broadcasts prior to 1988. That rule said that if you broadcasted X hours of programming with a certain point of view, you also had to broadcast X hours of programming with an opposing point of view. The main problem with this was that in many situations, one of the sets of programs was a ratings loser and hence a major money loser, so the radio stations would not broadcast either. Some people have even argued that this practice stiffled peoples' expression of controversial opinions on the radio.

How nice..... (0)

botzi (673768) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212082)

You can still say what you want, you just have to allow the entity you are talking about a chance to reply.

Why do this sound like a limitation to me?????
Also what would you say about the fact that you should provide the write of an answer *only* to those you're critisizing?
Well, hell, if that's not a freedom of speech issue.
If some illiterate jerk running a 'blog, should follow this law, every time when she/he says "Damn, this burgers, really sucked that night" or anything, how often he/she will dare to "issue" a critic???
I see tons of problems with this.
The main one goes that every person that doesn't feel ready to start a disput with someone "bigger", will avoid saying loudly his/hers opinion because of the risk to be smashed by some fency PR team on his OWN site...

Re:So much for freedom of speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212145)

>No freedom of speach issues here.

I am happy to say the Supreme Court feels otherwise, and thankfully their opinion is the one that counts. "[A]ny such a compulsion to publish that which reason tells them should not be published is unconstitutional." MIAMI HERALD PUBLISHING CO. v. TORNILLO, 418 U.S. 241 (1974).

Re:So much for freedom of speech (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211974)

Well this is just a proposal. How many idiotic proposed bills get canned in the U.S every year? Hell, how many idiotic bills get shot down in the senate every year?

If you're European (Check) and you think this sounds bad (Check) read the propsoal (Will do) and write to your MEP (You'll probably have to find out who they are first of course) and object. Explain why.

Hopefully we can stop it becoming an actual idiotic law.

At least not in the US (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212040)

At least not in the US. Such "right of reply" laws were ruled categorically unconstitutionl in the US a long tome ago. _Miami Herald Pub. Co. v. Tornillo_, 418 U.S. 241 (1974). link [findlaw.com]

BUSH = VACATION (again) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211890)



Bush relaxes with family in Maine [cnn.com] .

Jobless at 20 year high [nydailynews.com] .

Don't forget Bush was on vacation the entire month of August, 2001. Maybe if he was on the job, the intelligence on Sept 11 would have allowed the tragedy to be averted.

But Bush was on vacation.

Gentlemen, fire up your trolls! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211896)

Can't wait to see messages about Natalie Portman naked and petrified and hot grits being poured down pants on the front page of the BBC site!

Re:Gentlemen, fire up your trolls! (1)

stephenry (648792) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212053)

Given her acting in the last two star wars films, I'm not too sure we'd be able to tell whether she was petrified or not.

Well, I thought.. (5, Funny)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211898)

Maybe it is only a US policy, but I thought "We will sue you!" letters from the organization's lawyers was the standard reply.

This chick has this down already (-1, Offtopic)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211899)

http://www.misanthropic-bitch.com/stupid.html

Newspapers too? (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211909)

Is this a requirement for newspapers in Europe? If not it seems exceptionally inconsitant. I imagine a lot of people (companies) are worried about their image on the net and want to force web sites to allow public responses in the same place as the source. I thought the US is having bigger problems with free speech, but this sounds very bad.

Re:Newspapers too? (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211983)

Is this a requirement for newspapers in Europe?

Not too sure if it is enshrined in law, but newspapers do tend to allow their probe target the opportunity to reply in the letters page. And if the story is proven to be inaccurate the newspaper would tend to provide a public retraction.

How much is due to this 'right of reply' and how much is due to common-sense courtesy and libel suit avoidance, I do not know. Any Slashdotters work for a European newspaper?

Re:Newspapers too? (3, Informative)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212017)

Yes, it indeed is like that. If you feel that you have been misrepresented in e.g. a newspaper article
they have to print your counterstatement. Usually it is headed by a more or less boilerplate intro of: "The press laws require us to print this, this does not mean it is true, correct etc."

Re:Newspapers too -- This is for Germany (1)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212099)

Replying to myself... *blush*: The stuff I wrote is valid for Germany where I am living, other EU countries may have different laws

Re:Newspapers too? (1)

vrt3 (62368) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212029)

Is this a requirement for newspapers in Europe?

IANAL so I'm not 100% sure about this, and I don't know the legal details, but I'm pretty sure it is a requirement for newspapers and magazines. The proposal just seems to be an extension to online publications.

Re:Newspapers too -- yes (4, Informative)

morzel (62033) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212058)

I'm not sure for the rest of Europe, but at least in Belgium there is the so-called "Recht van antwoord" (ie: right to reply).
Basically, it states that you are always entitled to a response at no cost in the publication that has criticized you, to give the readers both sides of the story.

If some paper/magazine writes a critical article on your person or organization, this gives you the right to post your rebuttal to the same audience that read the initial article - which seems OK for me.

Re:Newspapers too? (1)

DZign (200479) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212060)

I'm not sure if it's really a requirement, but I guess so, sometimes you see in a newspaper a column 'right to answer' (literal translation). Usually it's posted between the letters sent in by readers.

In this usually is a letter written by someone about whom an article had been written, he gives his opinion on what he believes has been mis presented, or corrects facts.. (to which an editor of course can also answer....)

I don't know if it's bad for the internet to have this - guess not. Publishing on the internet is the same as elsewhere, you are responsible for what you write and the internet does not make it anonymous or allow everything to be said.

You shouldn't be able to post lies about someone/something. There's still free speech: you can say what you want, but mention it's your opinion. But if the owner of the product or the person you attack doesn't approve, you have to allow him to defend himself too, so readers can make up their mind and judge for themselves who/what they will believe. I guess I prefer this more than the USA in which you receive cease and decist letters and have to take everything offline or get sued..

Re:Newspapers too? (1)

Hrshgn (595514) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212069)

>Is this a requirement for newspapers in Europe?

I think it is. You can see such 'clarifications' quite often in news papers and magazines.

I also think that equalization between printed and online press is the main motivation behind this move.

> I thought the US is having bigger problems with free speech, but this sounds very bad.

Giving both sides the right to calrify their position is hardly impeding free speech. And there are not just 'journalist vs. big company' situations. Sometimes private individuals get attacked in the press. I really think that it is their right to respond to such accusations.

Hrshgn

Re:Newspapers too? (5, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212096)

Is this a requirement for newspapers in Europe?

From the article (RTFA ;-)):

"A 1974 Council of Europe resolution says "a newspaper, a periodical, a radio or television broadcast" must offer a right of reply. Most European countries have enacted that right, with a German law--compiled by the U.K. nonprofit group Presswiseâ"that offers a typical example: A publisher is "obliged to publish a counter-version or reply by the person or party affected."

Re:Newspapers too? (2, Insightful)

aspargillus (640992) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212119)

Is this a requirement for newspapers in Europe?

Yes. Actually any traditional media; paper, television or radio. So incuding publications on the net is actually necessary for consistency.

I thought the US is having bigger problems with free speech, but this sounds very bad.

I don't quite see why this is bad. You are responsible for the things you say, no matter by whay medium. You make a publication claming some bullshit about someone else: they can respond with the very same means to the very same audience.

Re:Newspapers too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212122)

I don't see how allowing both sides to say something, is limiting free speech? It improves free speech in my opinion by allowing not only the rich and powerfull to say something, but also the poor. (in a medium that people actually read)

Re:Newspapers too? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212133)

I thought the US is having bigger problems with free speech, but this sounds very bad.

A common misconception.

avoid traffic problems; article text (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211915)

One of the finest days in Internet law dawned on June 12, 1996, when U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell wrote an opinion that was remarkable for its clarity and prescience.


At the time, Dalzell was serving on a three-judge panel that rejected [slashdot.org] the absurd Communications Decency Act [slashdot.org] as a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free expression.


Dalzell recognized [eff.org] that the U.S. government's true fear of the Internet was not indecency or obscenity, but hypothetical worries about how "too much speech occurs in that medium." Dalzell and eventually the Supreme Court realized that the best way to foster the soon-to-be spectacular growth of the Internet was to reduce government regulation--not to increase it.



document.write(' [com.com] ');


Unfortunately, Europeans still haven't quite figured that out. The Council of Europe [coe.int] --an influential quasi-governmental body that drafts conventions and treaties--is meeting on Monday to finalize a proposal that veers in exactly the opposite direction. (It boasts 45 member states [coe.int] in Europe, with the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico participating as non-voting members. Its budget is about $200 million a year, paid for by member governments.)


The all-but-final proposal draft [coe.int] says that Internet news organizations, individual Web sites, moderated mailing lists and even Web logs (or "blogs"), must offer a "right of reply" to those who have been criticized by a person or organization.


With clinical precision, the council's bureaucracy had decided exactly what would be required. Some excerpts from its proposal:


"The reply should be made publicly available in a prominent place for a period of time (that) is at least equal to the period of time during which the contested information was publicly available, but, in any case, no less than for 24 hours."


Hyperlinking to a reply is acceptable. "It may be considered sufficient to publish (the reply) or make available a link to it" from the spot of the original mention.


"So long as the contested information is available online, the reply should be attached to it, for example through a clearly visible link."


Long replies are fine. "There should be flexibility regarding the length of the reply, since there are (fewer) capacity limits for content than (there are) in off-line media."




While the Council of Europe is very influential and its proposals have a tendency to become law, that outcome is not guaranteed.


It's pretty zany to imagine that just about every form of online publishing, from full-time news organizations to occasional bloggers to moderated chat rooms, would be covered. But it's no accident. A January 2003 draft [coe.int] envisioned regulating only "professional on-line media." Two months later, a March 2003 draft [coe.int] dropped the word "professional" and intentionally covered all "online media" of any type.


Pall Thorhallsson of the organization's media division explained this move by arguing that bloggers and their brethren are becoming influential enough to be regulated as are their counterparts in the offline world. A 1974 Council of Europe resolution [coe.int] says "a newspaper, a periodical, a radio or television broadcast" must offer a right of reply. Most European countries have enacted that right, with a German law--compiled by the U.K. nonprofit group Presswiseâ"that offers a typical example: A publisher is "obliged to publish a counter-version or reply by the person or party affected."


"Some online publications run by nonprofessionals can be very influential and therefore damaging to the reputation of other people," Thorhallsson told me. "It may be precisely against these (kinds) of publications that there is a need to grant a remedy. It's true that it may look burdensome for a blogger to be obliged to grant a right of reply. Some have suggested that a solution could be that individuals could make a deal with their service providers to administer the right of reply."


U.S. history

The United States once had a similar rule, which applied only to broadcasters, called the Fairness Doctrine. In a 1969 a Supreme Court case called Red Lion v. Federal Communications Commission [epic.org] , the justices gave liberal author Fred Cook the right to reply to criticism from a conservative broadcaster on Pennsylvania radio station WGCB. Eventually, President Ronald Reagan nixed the idea in the mid-1980s, citing the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech and the rule's possible "chilling effect" on controversial speech. (When faced with the onerous requirement of providing a right to reply, many broadcasters shied away from anything controversial.)


But even at the height of the Fairness Doctrine's popularity, the U.S. Supreme Court never went nearly as far as have the Eurocrats. The justices never countenanced the idea of requiring print publications--even very influential ones--to be required to offer a right of reply.


The United States once had a similar rule, which applied only to broadcasters, called the Fairness Doctrine.


In a unanimous decision in the 1974 case, Miami Herald Publishing v. Tornillo [findlaw.com] , the court struck down a Florida law that gave politicians a right of reply if a newspaper criticized them.


The reasons that gave the justices pause three decades ago illuminate precisely how poorly crafted and ill-conceived the Council of Europe's current proposal is today.


First, a right of reply penalizes an Internet speaker or publisher. It takes time to receive a reply, to edit it for space, and to verify that it actually came from the person being criticized. In many cases, slashdotter's have been able to overlook Malda's homosexuality, and the cost may be minimal, but in marginal cases, it is likely to stifle robust political discussion--which lies at the heart of a democracy.


Second, the proposal substitutes an unelected bureaucrat's judgment about what material is appropriate for a mailing list, a chatroom or a Web log for the judgment of the person who first created the resource. There are other checks and balances than this kind of rough-hewn approach, such as readers eventually recognizing that a publication is biased or prone to errors and thus turning elsewhere for news and opinion. Besides, for many bloggers, it's already common practice to swap links with critics.


Third, the council's plan is unenforceable. Even today, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom have not enacted a right of reply for traditional media, and it's a good bet that they won't for the Internet, either. A Euroblogger who wished to cloak his identity could set up an account in one of those countries--or in the United States.


It's worth noting that the council has done some worthwhile work in other areas. On May 28, it released its "Declaration on freedom of communication on the Internet," [coe.int] which urged governments not to mandate blocking software and to preserve anonymity. Then again, the organization can be entirely too censor-happy, as when it approved [slashdot.org] a ban on Internet "hate speech" last year. Its creepy cybercrime treaty [slashdot.org] would be a boon to the police and the national security goons who make up the world's eavesdrop establishment.


While the Council of Europe is very influential and its proposals have a tendency to become law, that outcome is not guaranteed. After this week's anticipated approval by a working group, the full council will vote on the scheme, which will then be submitted to the member nations for final approval.


Then again, Eurobloggers who wish to use their real names may be out of luck. For better or for worse, Europe lacks a First Amendment and the respect for limited government, private property and free enterprise that America still enjoys. And Europe sure doesn't have a Judge Stewart Dalzell, who correctly predicted seven years ago that "the strength of our liberty depends upon the chaos and cacophony of the unfettered speech the First Amendment protects."

Right to reply? Certanly. (2, Funny)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211916)

They can write their reply on their check they send me to pay for my monthly web-hosting costs.

Re:Right to reply? Certanly. (1)

sirius_bbr (562544) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212013)

Just a hyperlink to the reply suffices. So it won't influence your web-hosting costs.

Dosent matter. (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212086)

If i write my opinion of the color of your house on your house in spray paint, it dosent affect you morgage either, but youre not gonna be happy with it

America seems really terrible... (-1, Troll)

jkrise (535370) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211917)

Till you hear about Europe.

Maybe, just maybe - Europe's onto a good thing, actually.

Anonymous cowards are banned in Europe?

Re:America seems really terrible... (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211956)

America tends towards protection of free speech; Europe tends towards protection of privacy.

Though this might be taking it a bit too far though. I don't like the authentication requirement. Surely it's up to the other person to prove he is who he claims to be before I should post his reply?

Given reasonable limits, of course. I should not be allowed to interrogate him and use regression hypnosis, etc. to make sure he's not a mole :)

Re:America seems really terrible... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212131)

America tends towards protection of free speech; Europe tends towards protection of privacy.

This is mainly because Europeans favored the extermination of the Jews and if the Nazis weren't so brutal in their treatment of ordinary European citizens, they would've probably ruled Europe for a thousand years. The Swiss banks sure loved the Nazi gold they stole from the Jews. They're big into privacy concerns. Alas the Nazis didn't know when to call it a day and they pushed too far and lost everything. As it was they could've gotten away with it if they had just called a truce with Britain and Russia. Noooooo, they had to rule the world. Stupid fucks. I wonder how different Europe would be today if the Nazis hadn't pushed into Russia and Britain? Hitler's heir may still have been ruling a peaceful unified European continent. Makes you really wonder. No Jews or minorities... it'd be a racist's wet dream.

Re:America seems really terrible... (5, Insightful)

stinky wizzleteats (552063) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211986)

Maybe, just maybe - Europe's onto a good thing, actually.

Or the rule is intended simply to make life difficult enough to restore the operational ceiling of free speech to those with the means to publish information in conventional forms. Sort of like requiring a test before voting. On paper a good idea, but in practice a means of controlling participation.

Slashdot the web? (4, Funny)

danormsby (529805) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211919)

So if the whole web works like slashdot we're covered? People can comment on any article if it refers to them or not.

Two questions. (2, Interesting)

TrollBridge (550878) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211923)

1. How will they verify that the person who is replying is in fact the person they are criticizing.

2. If the answer to 1 is "they won't", does this mean that any EU site will be a juicy target for trolls impersonating the subject of criticism? Sure sounds like an invitation for some nasty abuses to me!

Re:Two questions. (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212111)

These might be sticky questions, but the total lack of regulation on the internet has led to a situation where anybody can say anything about anybody with no redress. It's only a matter of time until the community won't be able to take this any more. I'm not saying the EU measures are good per se since I haven't seen the details, but it's been a long time coming.

One Answer, one new question (2, Interesting)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212130)

Right from the article description:

This would mean that you would be required to post the responses as well as authenticate their origin and make the responses available for some period of time.

So the answer is they're required to verify it. My question is, who's going to get the burden of authentication? Can you get away with just not posting responses that don't include some form of authentication, or do you have to go talk with everyone who submits a response letter to find out if they're aurthentic or not? That could be a potential pain.

Jurisdictional problems (5, Interesting)

salimma (115327) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211927)

If I criticise SCO my Slashdot journal, and me being based in Europe, SCO demanded that I give them the right of reply, what does it entail?

A SCO rep could just reply on the journal entry, but how does the authentication work? Could I require him to PGP-sign his message? Or would it be irrelevant because Slashdot is not based in Europe?

Re:Jurisdictional problems (4, Informative)

sebi (152185) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212055)

If I criticise SCO my Slashdot journal, and me being based in Europe, SCO demanded that I give them the right of reply, what does it entail?

When they respond you would have to do a new journal entry. It would start with a disclaimer along the lines of 'according to blabla I have to present the following. The views following express the opinions of SCO and are not mine.' Then you would print whatever they sent you. To actually force you to post their rebuttal they almost certainly need some kind of ruling by a judge. You can clearly mark what is from them and still write your opinions before and after.

Thanks Council of Europe. (0, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211929)


.. Now everytime someone says "Jon Katz sucks" he'll feel obligated to reply.

Re:Thanks Council of Europe. (1)

mydigitalself (472203) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212038)

lol.
come to think of it, where in the world is jon katz?? i haven't seen one of his rantings in ages.

Re:Thanks Council of Europe. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212101)

he writes about dogs now. No, seriously!

In Soviet Russia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211937)

Internet communications forces itself on you.

Wow... (3, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211938)

This is a truly idiotic endeavor. While it may be one thing to require professional media outlets to provide such a forum (which they generally do out of good journalistic practice), it is another thing entirely to require it of any and all online content. While this is a long way from becoming law, it's distressing that such a proposal has made it this far...

Re:Wow... (2, Insightful)

peerogue (623472) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212091)

Well, call it idiotic if you want, but that's actually a good thing. You should be held liable for your sayings, and if you offend someone, you have at least to give that someone the right to defend himself.

It's only because that someone has that right that *you* have the right to express your opinion. In a reponsible manner. Otherwise, it's the traditional fight where the stronger (the one with access to more media, here) that will always win.

I see that as being really fair. If you don't see it that way, then I'll call you @#$%!@ and you will have ability to defend against that blatent accusation. :-)

Isnt this the Slashdot way? (3, Insightful)

peripatetic_bum (211859) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211939)

Of course this could be a good thing or a very bad thing.

At least the law doesnt say you have to reply to your critics.

At least you only have to hyperlink to them.

Of course, what could happen is that we might see a floweing of civil discussion or we might end up back in the stone age if slashdot flamage starts ending up in mom and pop's daily newspaper reading and everyone launches nukes for retaliation

Errr (-1, Troll)

BiteMeFanboy (680905) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211940)

at least in Europe

At most in Europe. So who gives a fuck.

ack wish I could edit my last post (1)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211941)

For weblogs, that is simple. Use a system that allows user comments.

seems fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6211948)

I mean if you are sincere then you should allow them the ability of the rebuttal. I hate one sided arguments anyway. What a waste.

Confused (4, Interesting)

m00nun1t (588082) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211954)

What I've never understood about laws like this is the location of the person vs. the location of the server.

Let's say I'm in Europe and my server is in the USA (pretty common I would guess). Whose laws am I subject to? And let's say I'm subject to European laws. They may be able to arrest me, but I would assume they have no legal right to force the ISP to remove my content.

Have there been any precedents around this sort of thing? And what country combination were those precedents?

Kazaa seems to be depending on this model - clients in the USA (and everywhere else, but USA is where the legal action is around Kazaa), staff in Australia, company & servers in Vanuatu. Maybe they are taking advantage of the confusion?

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212035)

Here in NY state the courts have ruled that if you live in New York state (or do biz here) and the people are logging in from New York state then you have to follow state law no matter were your server is located.

The cases involved gambleing and some kiddie porn sites but it deals with all other aspects of NY state law violations as well. I would guess this is how it works in Europe.

Re:Confused (1)

BiteMeFanboy (680905) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212045)

That's because you have national governments, which are based on geographical boundaries, believing that they have the right to determine what goes on outside their border. I've got new for them, they don't. Case fucking closed.

Not Weblogs (2, Informative)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211959)

According to the draft:

"Aware at the same time that it may not be necessary to extend the right of reply to non-professional on-line media whose influence on public opinion is limited; "

I don't think that many weblog scould be considered professional or influencing of public opinion.

Re:Not Weblogs (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212000)

Ignore my comment. I found the edited latest version.

Re:Not Weblogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212042)

That'll be a nice dilemma for bloggers - they always claim to be so important and influential. Let's see how long they keep claiming that once the claim actually has real-world repercussions.

Don't you think... (0)

TheSonicVince (591769) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211964)

That it's a good thing actually? I mean think about it: I have this website, and any guy just comes and tells sooooo bad things on me; it is a chance to have an official answer and to force him to publish it, so everyone knows what I reply to him. It would lead to more discussion than now, because now what I answer will probabyl nit be known by a lot of people.

A BLOG ! (3, Interesting)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211973)

So, if you have an open blog; ppl can register and answer whatever they want.

"The reply should be made publicly available in a prominent place for a period of time (that) is at least equal to the period of time during which the contested information was publicly available, but, in any case, no less than for 24 hours." "

--Prominent... Like close to the offending comment, offering it the same exposure ?

â Hyperlinking to a reply is acceptable. "It may be considered sufficient to publish (the reply) or make available a link to it" from the spot of the original mention.

--ditto

â "So long as the contested information is available online, the reply should be attached to it, for example through a clearly visible link."

--ditto

â Long replies are fine. "There should be flexibility regarding the length of the reply, since there are (fewer) capacity limits for content than (there are) in off-line media."

-ditto

So, all I will do is add a small line at the bottom of my Blog that says "Whatever you say, someone else can answer if they feel compelled to!"...
As in, a blog ?

Re:A BLOG ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6212085)

The problem is that the law is too broad for it to mean not web-blogs. The way the law it written any lawyer can make an argument that a semi-popular web-blog is covered as well. You also should remember that not all sites are blogs some are commentary.

why a chilling effect? (5, Insightful)

jd142 (129673) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211975)

I can still say anything I want. I can say slashdot sucks on my blog. All I have to do is give the slashdot editors a chance to put up a message on my blog that says "no we don't". I can still say anything I want. And since linking to a response is acceptable, I could even tell them, "Fine, I'll put a link up to your response."

If you look at some of the web pages that make fun of a corporation and got in trouble, they put up the response and then make fun of it, so not much will actually change.

If anything, this might make free speech *more* available, since anyone who says "wal-mart sucks" has a non-onerous way of placating wal-mart without having to take down the text that offended wal-mart.

Recently, we saw Penny-Arcade forced to take down a Strawberry Shortcake parody. What if instead, all they had to do was put American Greetings' response to the parody. And then since they've complied with the law, they wouldn't have had to take the strip down. And what if they could use that compliance as an additional defense?

Re:why a chilling effect? (5, Insightful)

MrFredBloggs (529276) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212139)

It's chilling because it says that people have to take responsibilty for their actions. Some people don't like that.

I welcome that! (-1, Troll)

peerogue (623472) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211977)

This is a very good piece of news.

Actually, they are trying to mirror what exists today in the regular printed media. In French, that is called "droit de réponse", and it basically gives the right to anyone offended by the media to have a justice ruling forcing the response to be printed in that same media (if no gentleman agreement is possible).

I don't see why the Internet could not be viewed as a communication media where the people communicating need to be responsible. Freedom of speach is not incompatible with that!

wow (2, Funny)

Apreche (239272) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211978)

This would make like a reply from MS on every single /. story a requirement.

But I bet no matter what they say MS's replies will be spelled correctly.

No Free Speech in Europe (-1, Troll)

Jack Comics (631233) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211988)

If anything, this just goes to show that Europe does not endorse the right of free speech. The U.S.A., despite what might be wrong with it (and there is plenty), upholds more rights of its citizens than the Eurocrats. First, Europe banned Internet "hate speech," and now this. Ronald Reagan was right to strike down the Fairness Doctrine. All it did was stifle political debate, which is necessary for a democratic system to remain democratic.

The Germans and Russians censored all forms of communication before, and for all intents and purposes people recognize that as being a bad thing. All the Eurocrats are doing now is covering the same censorship in salad dressing in hopes of making it more appealing and more tasty, but underneath it's the same old censorship.

Re:No Free Speech in Europe (0)

Burb (620144) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212044)

If I understand your intent, you probably meant "Nazis" and "Communists" rather than "Germans" and "Russians"?

Re:No Free Speech in Europe (0)

TheSonicVince (591769) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212065)

I think you miss it completely. This isn't about censorship AT ALL! It's about letting people have an somewhat official answer to someone who mistreated them. And about USA=land of the free blah blah blah, I don't agree with you neiter. How could a country ruled by bigottery morrons where the Church is INSIDE the political government give more freedom to its citizen? Remember what our loving christian friends did to those who didn't think like them some centuries ago?? USA is a kind of Matrix, with politicla power on the surface saying 'Yay dude, here it's freedom liberty land of the free and so on. We rock.', whilst actually, it's all about corrupted bigottry.

Re:No Free Speech in Europe (1)

vrt3 (62368) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212100)

How does this limit free speech? You can still say what you want, and if someone says something about you that is untrue, you have the right to post a clarification. Both the original text and the reaction are available for everyone to see, so there is no censoring.

I reject this (1)

PaulGrimshaw (605950) | more than 11 years ago | (#6211992)

"This will likely have a chilling effect on Internet communication (at least in Europe)."" I reject this... Wheres your proof? ;)

Microsoft (1)

stephenry (648792) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212001)

So... I assume that Microsoft will be hiring quite soon to account for the increased work-load?

Steve

Why is this not good? (4, Insightful)

Niles_Stonne (105949) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212003)

Why should you, or I, or anyone else have the "right" to post slanderous or just plain false comments about companies/people without their ability to respond?

Frankly, if someone starts posting bad things about me or my company somewhere, I really would like to be able to respond to those comments.

My only concern about this is the potential for abuse:

Let's say that I post a "Company X sucks" rant on my web site... Company X sends a response, that according to this law would be required to be posted on my site. Company X's response is in the form of an extremely large file. Company X then has an employee post an anonymous article to Slashdot ( First use of annoying new low in EU! Take a look _here_[annoyingly large file, hosted on my server]). My hosting company kindly then sends me a bill for the bandwidth useage, and I quietly go bankrupt...

Europe? Pah. (0, Troll)

rasteri (634956) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212004)

Buncha commie pinko leftie bastards deserve it. Oh, wait. The UK's still part of Europe, isn't it? This is easily the most oppressive legislation ever, and is an insult to all those in the free world!

what the? (1)

Datasage (214357) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212006)

Lets see here. In a court of personal opinion eurpeons are now going to be required to give those critized a chance to respond?

Well on a mailing list this isnt a big deal. critsism and response happen all the time. But i the case of blogs? That makes no sense. A blog is simply a journal or diary. The only diffrence is its avilable to the world. Do you want to response to critisim in your journal?

Everybody can reply (1)

miradu2000 (196048) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212008)

This law makes no since because unlike print where as few people have the methods to publish, on the web ANYONE can write something and throw it online for a miminal, or no cost. If you want to reply to something in particular , start a blog, i mean what else are they other than a commentary on a specfic authors take on life...

The beauty of the web is that everyone has a voice, and there is no need to force others to publish stuff that is not their own.

What?? (2, Insightful)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212009)

HEhehehee okay lemme get this straight ...

I live in England (well I don't but bear with me here)... and I write something bad about tony blair on my website.

I then have to allow an avenue for tony to be able to "Comment" or "Give his side" on MY WEBSITE???

What the hell? Who comes up with this shit. If someone writes nasty things about you on their blog you write nasty things about them on your blog ... or is this just an American concept?

So what if I say something bad about someone in public, must I then allow them to speakerphone in and explain it from their perspective to my friends?

I wonder how long this will last (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212012)

You folks do understand that this will apply to any online version of a newspaper? Might actually be a good thing, since right now newspapers, even online ones don't do a good job with retraction.

I don't believe this law will affect blogs that are run like forums (i.e. Slashdot), since there is plenty of opportunity for someone to post a rebuttal. (Might be tough to find once it was moderated into the ground, though... ;-)

This ruling might become unwieldy when someone decides to provide a multi-terabyte response. Or one full of pop-up ads.

good !!! (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212015)

Now, I can open a slash forum in which I'll criticize anybody.
They'll reply publicly, I'll reply publicly...
At the end people will come to see how well they bite and I'll make money advertising.

OK, blagues a part, if it's only giving them the right to reply (according to the article, a URL is enough), then I don't mind, this will add tomye-community's animation.

Boundaries (3, Interesting)

limekiller4 (451497) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212025)

Who decides what qualifies as "criticism?"

Are opinions included? Am I allowed to say "I don't like you" or do I have to post your rebuttal?

Are business covered? Do they have to post replies from their competitors? If a company claims that their product works, is that tacit criticism of someone who says that it does not? Does that person get to post their complaint on the offending companies website?

What if the criticism is oblique? "Other products aren't as fast as the Super Widget 2003" Who gets to reply?

This is capitalistic gentrification. This is some organization planting a flag and claiming the internet as principally a business stomping ground.

Nothing new (1)

dirkx (540136) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212031)

Note that similar rules already exist in most of europe for other types of non registered media. This just confirms that the internet becomes more normal once more.

And it once again sees removed a large chunk of friviolous, US inspired, type of lawsuits we can just do without, from the general 'speak your mind on the net' equasion. Not to mention the fact that it equals the playing field between the big guys and the small guys. So good for the small guys; and tough, but fair to the big guys.

As to verifying the authentity; that it is really up to the publisher if he or she wants to limit the amounth of counter argument it wants to publish.

Dw

So, in summary (-1, Troll)

Bold Marauder (673130) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212036)

We're hopelessly fucked.

The internet had the potential to bring people together and foster the spread of information and knowlege [eg, the way that the citizens of eastern bloc countries reported what was going on when they were over throwing the communists].

Instead, thanks to the big corps and invasive governments; all we are spreading is nigerian lolita viagra pyramid schemes.

BLEAH. Time to kill my computer, as well as my television.

Maybe I don't get it (4, Insightful)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212041)

In the good old printed press there are certain rules that have to be followed.

For example you will be in hellish hot water as a paper when you just print accusations without even giving the accused so much as a chance to answer to those allegations.

Also, if somebody feels unfairly treated he has a right to a counter statement (Gegendarstellung in German). That's not an elaborate article, but the right to set the facts straight from his/her position. The paper doesn't have to agree with it an can explicitely mention that, but they must print it with few exceptions.

So why the fsck should this be different on the net then in the printed press? Should Mr. Drudge have the right to smear around his rumours, without the right of a potentially badly harmed person to even respond to it? I think not.

By the way: This right to a counter statement is based on Swiss press laws. think Germany is quite comparable.

Freedom of the press ... (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212043)

Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the press
(paraphrased from press critic A.J. Liebling's famous phrase: Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.")

Well, if what we're discussing actually becomes law, not in Europe anymore!

Administratively good & bad (1)

Pond823 (643768) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212051)

I don't entirely see what the fuss is all about. It doesn't mean you can't say what you like about someone, just that if they find out about it, you have to post their reply. A bit like Slash. It will not stop anonymous@cowards, slander, libel or anything like that (you only have to see the UK tabloids to see that)

Of course they'll need more IT professionals to administer it...

Pesticide logic. (1)

StealthBadger (168482) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212067)

Think of a farmer applying bug killers to his crops. "Well gee, an ounce is about... well, about a 'glug', and if one glug is good for killing 'em, two or three must do the job right damn well!"

In the original proposal, the restriction to "professional" for this law would have opened up commentary and communication quite well. If you look at the BBC's news site the level of commentary and discussion on the articles is actually very good.

But opening up this requirement to EVERY site that puts an opinion online is pretty moronic, since the person who has money behind their opinion can have the PR staff zipping through hostile weblogs for an hour every afternoon cut-n-pasting the opposition into oblivion, while the smaller voices will have enough trouble just preserving the intended tone of their own sites.

Add this to the free speech case where Nike is suing for the right to lie [reclaimdemocracy.org] in its marketing efforts, and the FUD wars coming up in Europe could make the MS vs. Linux diatribes look like sweet kisses from your first love.

goatsx (1, Funny)

CyberGarp (242942) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212068)

What if someone complains about people who post offensive postings and gets a reply from goatsx? Do they have to post his reply? Maybe goatsx has a use after all, like irritating these lawmakers.

Right of reply (1)

Alomex (148003) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212073)

This will likely have a chilling effect on Internet communication (at least in Europe)."

The right of reply is not a chill on free speech. It is meant to be there as a counterbalance to smear campaigns financed by vested political/economic interests. This is often needed in practice. Do you know that the Clintons were exonerated of Whitewater scandal by all prosecutors including their arch-rival Kenneth Starr?

You didn't know that? Do you ever wonder why?

Council of Europe.. (1)

Woxbert (315027) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212077)

I wouldn't worry about this too much.

The Council of Europe is all about cultural and social rights, and it's pretty good at it.

The Council of Europe passes guidelines for the states and facilitates co-operation between different group.

What the Council of Europe doesn't do is legislate. Yes, I agree that in this case the well-meaning beaurocrats at the CoE have got it completely wrong, but this does not mean that it will become law in any country or region.

That's what the EU is for, and whilst the Council of Ministers (consisting of the Heads of State or Government) can be pretty authoritarian at times (still insisting they meet in secret!), the European Parliament is normally pretty good at defending people's rights, rather than attacking them, as most member states governments are so keen on doing (think Echelon).

Council of Europe (2, Informative)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212079)

Council of Europe is NOT a "quasi-governmental" entity. Indeed, it is an intergovernmental one and is the closest thing there is to a central, federal, European government. Calling it "quasi-governmental" is a gross inaccuracy. More info here [coe.int]

Good Thing (1)

moofdaddy (570503) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212081)

I personally think that this is a good time, all the law does is allow equal time. Scrolling through the comments I have seen a lot of people very negative about this and I don't understand why. This doesn't violate free speech ( and being an american I don't really know what Europes free speech laws are anyway) it just makes it so if someone decides on their website to attack someone else that they have a fair chance for rebuttle. There seems to be no better way to increase the flow of good infomration. As I write this though I've come to think of a few interesting situations. What about political campaigns? Do they have to allow their opponenet the chance to respond to their attacks? What about major companies who make advertising claims against other companies? Etc. I have no problem with either of these, I just think it'll be interesitng, and make for an intersting web site. " Our product is 10 times better then Ultrasoft" and now a message from ultrasoft "What they just said is not true."

sweeping conclusions (2, Insightful)

snarkh (118018) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212098)

For better or for worse, Europe lacks a First Amendment and the respect for limited government, private property and free enterprise that America still enjoys.

Talk about being biased. Such absurd and ignorant generalizations from one, admittedly seemingly ill-conceived, law proposal.

One might as well look at the American health care and say, for better or for worse, US lacks all respect for well-being of its citizens.

Why should the internet be treated differently? (1)

Wiseazz (267052) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212110)

What if a news commentary anchor is critical of, say, our president (I know this is far-fetched, but stay with me here). They aren't obligated to give him a 30-second commercial spot in retaliation.

Newspapers are not required (though often do) publish retalitory letters to editorials.

That doesn't mean you won't at times have to answer for your comments - that's why we have legal mechanisms for handling slander, etc. But forcing personal blogs and web sites to post retalitory comments is, well, dumb.

Now, having said that, do we have to allow these folks a response on slashdot? Just curious.

they don't have free speech anyway (1)

andy666 (666062) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212123)

in france the radio stations have to play a certain amount of usic in french. and in germany if you move you have to register with the local police station. europe is much more paternalistic ( fascist).

Bad Idea (4, Insightful)

EQ (28372) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212125)

So, lets see, you have the Holocaust Deniers who can force News sites to link to them every time they are mentioned in a news post, an accused rapist demanding linkage under court order to his victim's web site, Labor Party forced to link to Conservative Party, fascists/communists court-ordered posting every time they get criticized...

Something fundamentally wrong about that. What ever happened to the Marketplace of Ideas? Thomas Jefferson championed it in the USA, but the original idea came from European philosophers (Locke, etc).

Its my web space, I pay for it, why should I be forced to give credence and publicity to someone I am opposed to, on MY dime? They can use their own site and post there.

To parphrase an old hyper-mach-military saying (Kill them all and let God sort them out):

Post them all, and let Google sort them out.

Vox populi, and all that jazz...

Enforcement (1)

linuxislandsucks (461335) | more than 11 years ago | (#6212140)

how do they plan to enforce it?

there is already case law that I do not have to follow EU concil rulings if my bsuienss is not direct with UE coutnries..casse with both EBay, Yahoo, Google and et cper German's no nazi stuff laws..

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