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I hope that readers can forgive me returning to a pet topic of mine but I found this piece about Lord Justice Leveson’s address rather interesting and I am pleased to note that he is saying things about the “new media” that Both Ray and I have been arguing for quite sometime, namely that its users have to be held responsible for the things that they write or say.
In the super-injunction example, the writ of the law was, perhaps, believed not to run against bloggers and tweeters. This is perhaps an example of the wider phenomenon I mentioned earlier: the belief that the law does not, and cannot apply to the internet. In many ways this is a pernicious and false belief: false because the law can be enforced against those who blog and tweet; pernicious because the idea that the law does not apply to some while it applies to others undermines the rule of law as it is inconsistent with the idea of equality before the law. Procedural justice requires the law to be equally applicable to all.
While Lord Justice Leveson speaks to the nature of the problem with the “New Media” he does not offer any idea about how individuals may be held responsible for the things that they may publish in a tweet or blog and while he does not go further than mentioning online anonymity in passing I am saddened that he has not made the logical connection between easy anonymity and the behaviour that it enables and encourages. personally I think that easy anonymity goes hand in glove with bad behaviour and that Ray’s suggestion that no social media presence without verifiable bona fides should be possible has merit for improving accountability and civil behaviour. The suing of Twits and Bloggers who have thought that they could ignore the law with impunity is something that we will see far more often in the coming years and we Bloggers will have to be eternally aware of just where the boundaries of the law are if we are to avoid litigation. Personally I have always strived to remain within the bounds of the law because I do understand that doing so is essential for the civility of social engagement, hopefully those who have thought other wise will be brought to heal by the evolution of the law in the way that it pertains to our ever increasing online presence.
- Leveson: Bloggers and tweeters must not be above the law (itv.com)
- Leveson warns journalistic standards could slip if bloggers not subject to law (guardian.co.uk)
- Leveson, Libel and Social Media (broadstuff.com)
- ‘Trial by Google’ the new threat to privacy, Leveson warns (crikey.com.au)