Friday, 30 November 2012
Leveson Report: Epitome of double standards.
Mahyar Tousi explores the impact of the Leveson Report for the online world.
"Lord Leveson’s report into the culture, practices and ethics of the press has started a new debate between those who support new regulations, and those who see it as a danger to free speech. However, Leveson proposing for a new regulatory body is not the only issue with the report. It is the nature of what it represents.
Lord Justice Leveson has only dedicated one page, in a 2,000 page report, to what I would call 'the internet platform'. Bloggers, Twitter users and even those who are active on Facebook have been 'warned' in the report if they are abusive, but Lord Leveson has failed to address the difference, or in this case similarity between free speech on the internet and on the paper.
Many newspapers and other publications have a website and some even use external blogs to publish the same articles. Regulating the traditional aspect of journalism will create loopholes for people to express their opinions elsewhere – online. Don’t get me wrong; I am not calling for the entire world, both the real and virtual one to be regulated. I am merely saying that the proposals are out of date.
Hugo Rifkind, columnist for The Times, said: 'Say I fall foul of some theoretical statutory press regulation and am barred from working as a journalist again. What stops me writing the same stuff on a blog or another website? Two weeks ago there was a mild scandal about a Tory campaigner in the Corby by-election scheming against windfarms, it came about because a Greenpeace activist filmed him and posted it on the Greenpeace website. Should we be regulating that? What is a newspaper anyway?'
Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals are not stupid; they’re elegant and deft, and a decade and a half ago they might even have worked. But now? What matters today is content, not the media that delivers it, and there’s frankly something quite depressing about a nine-month inquiry that fails to figure this out.
What the proposals suggest is that whilst official newspaper journalists have to be more careful not to fall into another scandal, other platforms such as Facebook users – who sometimes as a joke, offend their friends – or even some youth political blogs, that leak fake information about people, are still entitled to free speech.
In response to what the proposals represent, I would like to conclude by quoting what Nick Cohen, writer for The Spectator said: 'Freedom of the press is the freedom of all citizens to write and broadcast'."
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