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. 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.
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.
"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."
I'd be interested in your views on this. In my view, self regulation works perfectly well. If 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. How on earth would this body seek to regulate avowed swear blogs or attack blogs like Devil's Kitchen?
The truth is that without a statutory base, any regulatory body which is voluntary will be toothless from the start. I cannot conceive that I would sign up to a regulatory code and I doubt many other blogs would. Because in the end, we would all ask: what possible benefit to us could there possibly be?