Misc

EUROSTERIA

Dear oh dear, it just gets worse. Blogland is now up in arms about an alleged terrible European plot to force weblogs to give a right to reply to factual errors.

Maybe this is the issue that will finally get our friends on the other side of the pond to sit up and take notice of what’s going on over here with the EU, says Au Currant.

“Europe, this is Jackboot – I believe you’ve met before. Jackboot, please proceed to stomp all over freedom of speech. There you go, stomp stomp stomp. Good Jackboot,” says Rachel Lucas. “We will not comply!” announce Samizdata.

Even liberal Jeff Jarvis joins in raging about “stinking European bureaucrats“. who want to “tell us how to operate or what we have to link to or what to say or how to say it. That is simply undemocratic.”

And it is also completely untrue.

Sorry to disappoint those who are excited about their impending oppression but the Council of Europe’s Revised Draft Recommendation on the right of reply in the on-line media sadly makes not one single reference to weblogs. Not one. Not even a quick namedrop of Instapundit.

Sorry for those who fear censorship but there is not a single mention in the document of the right to reply to opinions. Not one. It is simply about correcting facts. It is about adapting to the online world a 1974 Council Resolution which does not go beyond granting a right of reply with respect of factual statements claimed to be inaccurate and that, as a consequence, the on-line dissemination of opinions and ideas falls outside the scope of this Recommendation; “

Therefore the draft recommendation suggests that if non-professional on-line media print factual errors about people or organisations, they should be obliged to give them the right to reply in the same way as any other media. What is wrong with that? Especially when the draft makes it clear that any policing of such rights should be according to the principle of ‘self-regulation’ – which is what blogs work by anyway.

So how did this alarmist story emerge then? Well, The orginal unammended draft report referred specifically to ‘professional online media’ but the ammended version deleted the term ‘professional’.

So an alert online journalist Declan McCullaght got on the case and found a member of the European Council’s Media Division to give him the quote that “Some online publications run by nonprofessionals can be very influential and therefore damaging to the reputation of other people” to explain the change.

I am frankly amazed that American bloggers who spend half their waking hours “fact checking the asses” of the New York Times would be against the idea that any media should publish corrections and I am even more amazed that they reject the idea that weblogs should be taken as seriously as any other media. It is published information – full stop.

But even if you object to running corrections of factual errors in principle there is still one other small matter – The Council of Europe has nothing to do with the European Union. Nothing at all. It is an entirely seperate organisation with over 45 member nations.

Oh yes and another minor detail. The Council of Europe has no powers to implement any laws whatsoever. It is not a legislative body. It has zero power.

Now I wonder how many weblogs will bother to voluntarily give me the right to reply to the hysterical euro-phobic scaremongering?

Care for a straight banana anyone?

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