Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Thursday, 4 September 2008

There May Be Trouble Ahead...

There is increasing concern amongst bloggers that the European Union is out to get us. Those with their ear to the ground can hear the unmistakable sound of the EU jackboot marching towards us. People like MEP Daniel Hannan, for instance. Since he - the great freedom-loving spy in the enemy camp - wrote his article, Iain Dale, Dizzy and the truly refreshing Old Holborn (among others) have been warning us that we may be about to have a battle on our hands.

The EU sees blogs as "a new challenge" and the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education has adopted a report which laments that the "status" of blog authors and publishers "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". It goes onto recommend that the "status" (that word again) of blogs should be "clarified", and blogs should "voluntarily" (yeah, right) be labelled "according to the professional and financial responsibilities and interests of their authors and publishers". The end result would be to "encourage" the disclosure of ownership of media outlets to help to understand the aims and background of the publisher.

Which seems to be saying that anyone who has a blog should be forced to say who they are and to declare any interests they have, such that the powers that be know who we are and where we come from, and can track us down should the want to.

The EU have got a cob on with the blogosphere because they think it helped to sway the vote in Ireland on the Lisburn Treaty; a separate report notes that the Internet is a magnet for "anti-establishment opinion formers", and says that material in blogs tends to be overwhelmingly negative and is difficult to rebut because of its volume and disperate nature.

As Dan Hannan notes, it's difficult to write about this sort of thing without sounding paranoid and alarmist, but we should beware that this is how States (and let's be clear, the EU sees itself as a State) operate; one moment you get a seemingly irrelevant back-room committee using taxpayers' money to bemoan the extent of their subjects' freedom, and then before you know it people are being arrested at the Cenotaph for reading out the names of war dead, habeas corpus is being abolished and greengrocers are being forced to destroy their stocks of kiwi fruit.

So let's draw a few lines in the sand and see how long it takes for the EU to cross them: I should not have to declare who I am, what I do or what my interests are before I state my opinion on the Internet; there is already plenty of case law defining who is responsible for breach of copyright or for the publication of libellous or deflamatory material on the Web, so we don't need any more legislation; and if the Internet is providing an opportunity for previously dis-enfranchised, voiceless people to express their point of view then that's a very good thing - it's called freedom and it doesn't require State monitoring, legislation or regulation.

Man the barricades, people.


Man in a Shed said...

I'll be in the Euro cell next to you. ( Perhaps we should all learn morse code to tap out our blogs on the EU-Stalag pipes).

This Royal Throne of Kings said...

Given the fact that our prisons are bursting at the seams, MiaS, there won't be room to fit any of us sinister, off-message bloggers in!

Particularly if thousands of us refuse to 'comply'...