Democracy Relies on Freedom of Speech but It's Vital to Know Your Libel Law If You Are Going to Blog Online; the Proposed New System of Press Regulation Goes beyond Printed Titles, and Could Have Serious Implications for Websites and Social Networking Sites, Says Legal Expert Hugh Hitchcock. Here He Explores What Impact the Changes Will Have on Freedom of Speech Online

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

Democracy Relies on Freedom of Speech but It's Vital to Know Your Libel Law If You Are Going to Blog Online; the Proposed New System of Press Regulation Goes beyond Printed Titles, and Could Have Serious Implications for Websites and Social Networking Sites, Says Legal Expert Hugh Hitchcock. Here He Explores What Impact the Changes Will Have on Freedom of Speech Online


Byline: Hugh Hitchcock

DAVID CAMERON has insisted the cross-party deal reached earlier this week on a royal charter on press regulation defends the principle of a free press. But what will it mean for freedom of speech online? The Prime Minister, who was granted an emergency Commons debate on the proposed new system in response to Lord Justice Leveson's report on press standards, said the new regulator would not be set up by legislation - an approach he claimed was "fundamentally wrong in principle".

But he acknowledged that legislation was necessary to establish a system of exemplary damages for newspapers that did not sign up to the regulator.

The proposed new system goes beyond printed media however, with all publishers of news, comment and "gossip" being encouraged to join the regulatory system. This means that blog and news websites are equally as affected as printed titles, with bloggers potentially facing high fines if they don't sign up to the new regulator.

Under the charter, the definition of "relevant" bloggers or websites includes any that generate news material where there is an editorial structure giving someone control over publication.

Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship, which campaigns for press freedom, said it was a "sad day" for British democracy.

"This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people's web use," she said. She says she feared thousands of websites could fall under the definition of a "relevant publisher" in clause 29.

She pointed out that exemplary damages and costs imposed by a court to penalise those who remain outside the regulator could run to hundreds of thousands of pounds, enough to close down smaller publishers.

The exemplary damages clause was recommended in the Leveson report but has been opposed by some newspapers, which have been given legal advice that it could be contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the principle of free speech.

Under sustained questioning in the commons on Monday night the Culture Secretary Maria Miller said publishers "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".

She said the new rules were designed to protect "small-scale bloggers" and to "ensure that the publishers of special interest, hobby and trade titles are not caught in the regime".

However, sites that rely on a network of bloggers with a clear editorial structure, such as the Huffington Post, would be covered under the new rules.

Crucially, blog sites would not be at risk of exemplary damages for comments posted by readers.

While there has been an outcry over the proposals from those concerned about freedom of speech online, there is a danger here that we could miss the wood for the trees. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Democracy Relies on Freedom of Speech but It's Vital to Know Your Libel Law If You Are Going to Blog Online; the Proposed New System of Press Regulation Goes beyond Printed Titles, and Could Have Serious Implications for Websites and Social Networking Sites, Says Legal Expert Hugh Hitchcock. Here He Explores What Impact the Changes Will Have on Freedom of Speech Online
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.