Business ofcom Regs

Bloggers subject to same rules as traditional journalists

“Bloggers subject to same rules as traditional journalists.” Seems a bit obvious doesn’t it? In writing a blog one should respect the laws of the land and not defame, lie, slander, slur, libel, slight, disparage or apply any other similar verb to the html page.

I suspect if you are sure of your ground vilification, disparagement and other general character assassination is ok but the risk is yours to take.

At this point I’m sure some of you are wondering where all this is going. I’ve been catching up on my parliamentary news and noted this morning that Speaking in front of the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions recently, Dominic Grieve QC MP,  the Attorney General, said that bloggers are subject to the same rules as traditional journalists and that they needed to comply with privacy injunctions. However, he conceded that many bloggers were not aware often of the full terms of specific injunctions, and that this was a problem.

Of course most newspaper editors’ details will be on a list held somewhere that allows them to be contacted by the powers that be in case of need, be it for the purposes of wartime propaganda (the fiendish *****1) or slapping privacy injunctions on the general press. It is unlikely that I, Trefor Davies – occasional blogger, or others of my creed would be on this list and therefore not directly contactable for such purposes.

Moreover whilst my contact details are widely available, I suspect this is not normally the case with a blog. So when a judge slaps an injunction preventing the media from publishing details of the indiscretions of footballers, actors or anyone else rich enough to be able to pay to cover up their own follies it is unlikely that that I will find out about it.

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t want to go about breaking super-injunctions, I have a family to feed and I need my job.  The debate last year covered the fact that people were chatting on Facebook and Twitter about who was cheating on who, despite the presence of such rulings. The blogging angle looks like another example. A year ago it was estimated there were 152 million blogs on the www. It is impractical to have to contact every blog every time there is a super-injunction, if for no other reason that that act of doing so will effectively be telling the whole world in any case2.

Its a fact that we, the people, are having to adjust to new ways of living working on the internet. I, for example, am not totally comfortable with revealing my location information. Despite the fact that I realise it is almost certainly out there for all to see  I still withhold it if given a choice by an application. This is almost certainly a generational thing because I’m sure that kids think nothing of it.

It is also a fact that laws in general have yet to catch up with the internet age. It may be that internet evolves so quickly it will be a very long time before the law does catch up – assuming that it will do so eventually – perhaps I am wrong.

All I can say is that in the meantime I will mostly be avoiding the subject of celebrities on this blog “just in case”. I say mostly – I’m not averse to the odd name drop – it will all be in a positive context though:) “That girl I saw you with last night was a cracker but don’t worry *&@%$ – your secret is safe with me.”

1 insert own enemy – I’m friends with everyone especially those who might take umbrage and “come and get me” later.

2 I have visions of everyone on the planet having a blog just to avoid being left out on the gossip 🙂

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

One reply on “Bloggers subject to same rules as traditional journalists”

I think you make some good points there. On top of that “152 million blogs” remark I’d also say that many of those will not be hosted in the UK or on a UK domain, which is surely another headache as UK laws do not generally apply everywhere.

Fundamentally speaking it all comes back to an issue of control and state censorship. Where to draw the line, freedom of speech vs privacy etc. Most people should hopefully agree that saying things which are untrue or cruel/abusive/hateful is not acceptable. But the line gets twisted when a court asks everybody not to talk about something that they may already know and which falls into none of those above categories.

The simple fact is that it’s unreasonable and unrealistic to expect that ordinary people, be they bloggers, drinking in the pub or social network posters, will abide by every single little law or ruling that governs our speech.

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