Council of Europe proposing new rules requiring “right of response” for people criticized on the Net

According to Why Europe still doesn’t get the Internet at CNET News.com those zany Europeans are considering new rules granting a “right of response” to people and organizations that feel they have been unfairly criticized or portrayed on the Net:

The all-but-final proposal draft says that Internet news organizations, individual Web sites, moderated mailing lists and even Web logs (or “blogs”), must offer a “right of reply” to those who have been criticized by a person or organization.

With clinical precision, the council’s bureaucracy had decided exactly what would be required. Some excerpts from its proposal:

  • “The reply should be made publicly available in a prominent place for a period of time (that) is at least equal to the period of time during which the contested information was publicly available, but, in any case, no less than for 24 hours.”

  • Hyperlinking to a reply is acceptable. “It may be considered sufficient to publish (the reply) or make available a link to it” from the spot of the original mention.

  • “So long as the contested information is available online, the reply should be attached to it, for example through a clearly visible link.”

  • Long replies are fine. “There should be flexibility regarding the length of the reply, since there are (fewer) capacity limits for content than (there are) in off-line media.”

    It’s pretty zany to imagine that just about every form of online publishing, from full-time news organizations to occasional bloggers to moderated chat rooms, would be covered. But it’s no accident. A January 2003 draft envisioned regulating only “professional on-line media.” Two months later, a March 2003 draft dropped the word “professional” and intentionally covered all “online media” of any type.

    Pall Thorhallsson of the organization’s media division explained this move by arguing that bloggers and their brethren are becoming influential enough to be regulated as are their counterparts in the offline world. A 1974 Council of Europe resolution says “a newspaper, a periodical, a radio or television broadcast” must offer a right of reply. Most European countries have enacted that right, with a German law—compiled by the U.K. nonprofit group Presswisethat offers a typical example: A publisher is “obliged to publish a counter-version or reply by the person or party affected.”

  • Unless the weblog in question is portraying itself as a legit news source and not a collection of personal opinions I don’t see how it should be regarded under rules similar to actual news sites. For the record: SEB is entirely a collection of my personal opinions with the occasional additional insight of Eric Paulsen and in no way should be construed as anything close to being a professional publication of any kind let alone a real news source.

    Instead you should assume that every article here has been intentionally biased and influenced by the unique viewpoints and attitudes possessed by the two individuals involved in their creation and as neither of us live in Europe we reserve the right to make snide comments and critiques of whomever we so choose and not allow any space for contrary opinions if we don’t feel like doing so. And then we’ll giggle inanely behind your back to boot.

    So there.

    4 thoughts on “Council of Europe proposing new rules requiring “right of response” for people criticized on the Net

    1. I’d like to see how they would enforce their silly little rule over on this side of the Atlantic. Non quoted comments on my blog are strictly my opinion nothing else. Oh well that’s what the comments button is for – if someone is offended they can post a comment and it will always be directly linked to the original “offending” article grin

    2. I seriously doubt they expect to enforce those rules on this side of the Atlantic, though that doesn’t mean they may not try to block access to sites they feel are in violation of their laws to residents of their countries. And that would have implications for those of us on this side of the pond. Kinda like how many bloggers here are blocked by China for being too radical.

    3. Yeah, China doesn’t like me at all!

      It’s all silly, if you ask me. It just goes to show how little bureaucrats understand technological advances.

    4. Actually, I like the idea. IF applied to news organizations only. Now only how to define them…

      Obviously this would be unenforcable on foreign media. So there the idea goes out of the window again…

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