Act now to stop the UK Leveson press-regulations from applying to blogs and individuals online!

I've written here before that the impending UK press-regulation rules coming in as a result of the Leveson report will inadvertently end up treating bloggers and other everyday Internet users as though they were newspapers, exposing them to the threat of arbitration proceedings where they will have to pay the legal costs of people who want to silence them, and be subject to "exemplary damages" -- enormous statutory fines that grossly exceed any actual harm caused.

Now the Open Rights Group has started a campaign to warn party leaders about this in the three days we have left before Leveson becomes law. We need your help now, or bloggers and the open Internet will become collateral damage in the campaign to control Britain's awful tabloids.

Jim from ORG writes, "The Leveson regulations are being applied to UK websites -- in ways that could catch more or less anyone who publishes a blog. Ordinary bloggers could be threatened with exemplary damages and costs. If this happens, small website publishers will face terrible risks, or burdensome regulation -- and many may simply stop publishing."

Cameron, stop the Dangerous Blogs Bill (Thanks, Jim!)

(Disclosure: I co-founded the Open Rights Group and am proud to volunteer on its advisory board)


  1. At some level, I think that the problem here isn’t treating bloggers and users of social media as part of the press.  After all a blog-post can go “viral” and be seen by many more people than plenty of “traditional” media, so that’s just a recognition of the new reality.  The real problem is just how crazy-broken libel law is in the UK.

  2. The Great Drooling Libel Monster will only be satiated when anyone can be sued for everything by anyone.

    I’m not going to talk anymore.  I’m going to play context-sensitive sarcastic music on my guitar to make people laugh and see how the libel suits deal with that.

  3. What you see as a bug in the new press regulations is probably seen as a feature by those who wrote it.

  4. I did it!! That will teach them!  :-P

    I’ve grown to resent the idea that signing a petition or sending an email about a very specific issue is too easy to be meaningful. After all, our version of democracy is based on putting an X on a piece of paper once every four years, to block the group of people you like the least, so they can make choices on *every* issue, which are contrary to what they said they believed in when you voted. I believe this is bullshit. Adding your email address to a petition about a specific issue is infinitely more meaningful than voting. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  5. Given that clause 29 of the act specifically states that sites MUST have multiple contributors in order fall under its remit, I’m not sure where the “applying to individuals” from the headline comes from.

    1. If you are aware that the proposals would only apply to blogs run as a business with multiple authors or that accepting arbitration ensures that you won’t be liable for exemplary damages or false accusers’ costs, then this post clearly isn’t for you. Please come back when you’re less informed and ready to be told what to think.

    2. Even if this is true, it doesn’t improve the situation much. Why should a personal blog with two or more contributors be subjected to the same press rules as the Daily Telegraph? For that matter, why should a site like Boing Boing?

      Also, you shouldn’t be so complacent to think that single-author personal blogs are actually exempt. It all comes down to how the authorities define “site”. If a blog on has one author and counts as a “site” then yes it might be exempt. But what makes you think that the regulators won’t argue that “” is actually the “site” and that all the tens of thousands of blogs on blogspot are part of a single large site? And would you care to be the blogger who has to spend thousands of pounds of his own money on laywer’s fees to argue against that interpretation?

      1. It is possible to object to both the proposed regulation as it actually is and to it being misrepresenting as something worse.

        By the way, blogspot as a whole wouldn’t constitute a “relevant publisher” on all four criteria used in subsections (2) and (3) of the clause.

    3. A contributor could be anyone, If I take a youtube video of a opinion that I like and post it on my site that could be classed as a contributor and come under the remit…  its not rocket science to work that out !

  6. You’ve got this dead wrong. I’m a lone blogger, and I want to be able to choose to be regulated. I don’t want you to succeed in getting amendments that would deny me this choice.

    In assuming that being covered would be a terrible burden and a threat to free speech, you’re swallowing the line peddled by the worst and most right-wing sections of the British press.  

    In reality, the biggest threat to my free speech as a blogger is the fear that I might have to pay someone’s costs if I libel them.

    These proposals are intended to free publishers from the fear of having to pay libel costs – legislation will remove that threat from those who choose to be self-regulated. That’s a tasty carrot. The stick – a risk of exemplary damages if you choose not to be regulated – is only frightening if you think you’re going to deliberately or recklessly disregard someone’s right in an outrageous way. That’s what the law will say. It’s hard to do that by accident – unlike libelling someone. It’s not a “terrible risk” at all.

    Let me have the choice I want. Any blogger who disagrees with me will be able to make the opposite choice.

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