Some time I ago I warned that that the EU had aspirations to regulate blogs. I suppose in the back of my mind I didn't really think it would amount to anything. Sadly I was wrong. Dan Hannan reports today that a group of Euro MPs has issued a report. Paragraph O states...
O. whereas weblogs are an increasingly common medium for self-expression by media professionals as well as private persons, the status of their authors and publishers, including their legal status, is neither determined nor made clear to the readers of the weblogs, causing uncertainties regarding impartiality, reliability, source protection, applicability of ethical codes and the assignment of liability in the event of lawsuits.They don't seem to like blogs or even understand the concept of blogging, do they? Recommendation 9 says...
Suggests clarifying the status, legal or otherwise, of weblogs and encourages theirWe all know that 'voluntary' soon becomes 'compulsory'. My label is the title of my blog. That is quite sufficient, and I don't need some faceless Eurocrat to tell me otherwise.
voluntary labelling according to the professional and financial responsibilities and
interests of their authors and publishers;
Dan Hannan says...
This way lies madness. I'd rather give up blogging that co-operate with these wretched, obsessive regulators. Of course, I wouldn't have to give up at all, seeing as my blog is hosted in America. They really don't understand the internet, do they?
Bruno Waterfield recently reported on a secret Commission report about the danger posed by online libertarians: "Apart from official websites, the internet has largely been a space left to anti-European feeling. Given the ability to reach an audience at a much lower cost, and given the simplicity of the No campaign messages, it has proven to be easily malleable during the campaign and pre-campaign period."
The EU's solution? Why, to regulate blogs! Back in June (hat tip, EU Referendum), MEPs began to complain that unlicensed blogs were "polluting" cyberspace with "misinformation and malicious intent". They wanted "a quality mark, a disclosure of who is writing and why".
At the time, I dismissed it as the ramblings of a single dotty MEP. Not even the European Parliament, I thought, would actually try to censor the internet. I was wrong. We now have the full report and, sure enough, it wants to "clarify the status, legal or otherwise, of weblogs", and to ensure their "voluntary labelling according to the professional and financial responsibilities and interests of their authors and publishers".
With a glorious lack of self-awareness, the Euro-MPs behind the report elaborate their motives: "The report points out that the undetermined and unindicated status of authors and publishers of weblogs causes uncertainties regarding impartiality, reliability, source protection, applicability of ethical codes and the assignment of liability in the event of lawsuits. It recommends clarification of the legal status of different categories of weblog authors and publishers as well as disclosure of interests and voluntary labelling of weblogs."
Europhiles will now, no doubt, accuse me of scaremongering, and point out that it's only a Parliament proposal and has now to be agreed by the Commission and the Member States, and in all likelihood won't get very far. I'm too old to fall for that old trick. Perhaps I'd better start lobbying Tom Watson!