Internet users will be protected from abusive bloggers and malicious Facebook postings under proposals to set up an independent internet watchdog, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
The body, made up of industry representatives, would be responsible for drawing up guidelines that social networking sites, the blogosphere, website owners and search engines would be expected to follow.
This, presumably, will be the model that has worked so well with newspapers, will it? The reasoning given is thus:
A source who has seen the report said that the committee wanted to give the public “a form of redress” “At the moment consumers don’t know where to go if they want to complaint about something they have seen on the internet,” the source said. “The absence of any industry body is leading to a great deal of confusion and to widely differing practices.”
Oh, give me a fucking break, please! You’d have to be a politician to be so fucking stupid as to not know how to complain about a site. For example, if you read something on this site that you object to, you click on the “comments” link and make yourself known to me – there you are, an instant right of reply. There is also a contact form, should you wish to communicate privately. If I have said something that is materially inaccurate, then I will retract it and apologise. If, however, you are merely offended because I have said something that you do not like, you can whistle. I believe in free speech and that is more important than hurt feelings. There is no right not to be offended by the things people say.
People can become animated when discussing politics or religion and will doubtless make intemperate remarks from time to time. If people are so thin skinned that they want this censored, then tough. Either grow a thicker skin or don’t read it.
I am not, under any circumstances whatsoever, succumbing to any such nonsense.
Under the proposals, the new internet watchdog would operate in a similar way to other industry bodies such as the Press Complaints Commission, which enforces a code of practice for the UK newspaper and magazine industry, covering accuracy, discrimination and intrusion.
The watchdog would not have any statutory powers to impose fines but would investigate complaints and most likely publish its decisions in instances when its guidelines have been breached.
If this body has no statutory powers, how, exactly, can it enforce its rulings. If someone complained about my blog – because, for example, I said something rude about a politician (as if). Then what?
It is understood that it would also be able to order bloggers and social networking sites such as Bebo and MySpace to take down offensive messages or photographs.
Oh, I see… They will order me to take it down. I don’t do orders. No one gives me orders and I don’t obey them. My response to such an order will be an impolite instruction about where, exactly, they can stick their order. Then what? They could try the host, but as it’s in the USA, they will be reluctant to contravene the first amendment.
The idea is that a self-regulatory body like the Advertising Standards Authority would be set up to make sure that members, including, internet companies and search engines, subscribe to the code and abide by rulings.
Nothing, then. Not least, given that I have no intention whatsoever of joining up with any such body. I decide what goes here, not the government and not some quango. If I am guilty of libel, then the law already provides redress. In the case of blogs, it is usual that an apology and retraction is a simple matter as one deals directly with the author. Try getting it sorted as efficiently with a newspaper and see where it gets you. If I libel you, I will deal with it immediately and it will cost you nothing in legal fees and any damage done will be limited by the speed of response and unequivocal retraction. If I merely offend you – get over yourself.
The proposals follow a rash of complaints about malicious and inaccurate postings on Facebook and other social networking sites.
A British businessman was last week awarded £22,000 libel damages from a school friend who made false accusations against him on a fake Facebook profile.
Mathew Firscht launched the High Court action after inaccurate claims about his sexuality and political viewers were posted on the site.
All of which rather suggests that people do have the ability to work out how to obtain redress.
Late last year, I discovered that one of my images had been hotlinked by one of the scrotes who contributed to the B3ta message boards. That image was subsequently vandalised by another contributor without my permission. I contacted the site owners and they dealt with the matter – very efficiently in my opinion. It really isn’t that difficult. At least, it isn’t if you are a normal, rational person with a grain of common sense. If you are a politician, you need an unwieldy quango to sort it out for you.
Just in case I have not made it abundantly clear – I will not be subjected to any censorship by an “industry body”. I decide what is published here and my word is final. That word is, to the twats in New Labour who want to censor me; fuck off!
Oh, sod it, that was two words.
Update: Tim Ireland doesn’t get it.
Iain Dale’s idea of self regulation
“I’d be interested in your views on this. In my view, self regulation works perfectly well. I someone makes a complaint to me about an abusive comment – or something I have writen which they believe is incorrect or offensive – I look it up and then decide whether to remove it, amend it or leave it as it is. If people don’t agree with my decision they don’t come back to my blog. It’s a simple, free market, and it works.” – Iain Dale
There you have it… straight from the horse’s arse.
If Iain Dale publishes something on his ‘blog’ that you don’t like (up to and including anonymous comments from people who wish to undermine your reputation without risking their own) and you complain about it, one of two things will happen:
1. Iain will kindly* and graciously** remove or alter the content that you believe “is incorrect or offensive”
2. Iain will refuse to change it, and you will be free to walk away and leave him to it, thereby fixing the problem.
How does that fix the problem for anyone but Iain?
(*Isn’t that big of him?)
Sigh… if Iain publishes something that is materially incorrect – i.e. it is libellous or defamatory, the law already covers it. It isn’t gracious of him to remove it, it is a legal obligation.
On the other hand, if you complain about something that is offensive, then yes, it is entirely up to him to choose what action (if any) to take. I repeat – no one has the right not to be offended. If someone comments and uses insulting language or common abuse and you feel that this undermines you then grow a thicker skin or don’t read it. That’s how private property and freedom of speech works. As a general rule – I will remove such comments, but not everyone will do so and I’ve had to put up with trolls on other sites making derogatory and untrue comments about me and the blog owner has left them in place as they have a policy of not removing any comments. Somehow I’ve managed to cope.
There is a time and a place for cheap partisan political shots. This is not one of them. This proposal threatens all of us. Just for once, we are all on the same side. Let’s try to remember that… Please?