Sunday, June 29, 2008

EU Blogger Regulations

Scary, very scary...


This is alarming. If you want to know what the Democrats will do in five years, then look now at what the EU is concocting, which is rapidly devolving into a Soviet style thought-control dictatorship. First “hate speech” codes at our universities, then at the workplace, next the Fairness Doctrine to stifle talk radio, and then they will monitor the internet. These characters bear watching.

EU proposes regulation of blogging

Approved by 33 votes to one, the EU’s Culture Committee has passed a draft report on blogging which could lead to all European bloggers being required to gain an official stamp of approval simply to exist.

Concerned that blogs could prove a useful tool for the “less principled”, Estonian Socialist MEP Marianne Mikko (author of the draft report) said: “They are in position to considerably pollute cyberspace. We already have too much spam, misinformation and malicious intent in cyberspace”. She added, “I think the public is still very trusting towards blogs, it is still seen as sincere. And it should remain sincere. For that we need a quality mark, a disclosure of who is really writing and why. “

Ms Mikko has been granted such an amazing ability to pack so many begged questions into a couple of fairly short sentences that surely a career in the East Enders script writing team is hers for the asking.

Let’s knock the obvious nail on the head first as the EUgh is fast becoming the feather-bedded home of unintended consequences. If any form of regulation of blogs is required in order to stop the less principled exploiting the medium I give you a cast-iron guarantee that the only people who will be stopped are principled individuals who blog for no reason other than to please themselves. Ms Mikko, has it not occured to you that the “less principled” are likely to have the time and resources to sail through any quality mark process without disclosing who they are or what they are really pushing? No, thought not.

Let us then briefly dwell on the words “less principled”. Only briefly. And only with the same intent that we afford every other lunatic state or suprastate proposal. Who defines what constitutes “less principled”? I suspect that Ms Mikko feels that she has all the God given wisdom necessary to be the sole arbiter of who has more principles, who has just enough and who, of course, has less. Do we feel happy with that thought? No, thought not.

And the same test can be applied to the awful state of ‘cyberspace’ as defined by Ms Mikko that bloggers are in a position to further pollute. It is, she says already full of “too much spam, misinformation and malicious intent”. As we are feeling charitable given the rich pickings in this single quote, let’s cast “spam” to the cupboard under the intellectual stairs and focus only on “misinformation” and “malicious intent”. Soloman himself were he alive today and grappling with the complexity of the Internet would not be able to promise to always get it right when sorting information from misinformation. Ms Mikko really is a very optimistic lady if she thinks her MEP colleagues are capable of pulling their snouts from the EUgh trough for long enough to even ponder the challenge. Are we that optimistic? No, thought not.

And as for “malicious intent”, well I suspect you are there before me. Exactly, who defines what particular intent is tagged as bearing malice? And, to go a tad further, malice has to have an object, so who produces the big EUgh approved list of things towards which malice should not be shown? Anyone not connected with the EUgh by any chance? No, thought not.

Strangely, none of the above points particularly aggravate me as nothing is now expected from politicians (of whichever colour and in whatever institution) other than self-referential legislating with no greater intellectual or moral legitimacy than personal prejudice.

What really did concern me was Ms Mikko’s belief that on one side of the equation is something called “the public” and on the other is something called blogging. Now I know that Estonia is a very small country which has suffered terribly from decades of Soviet political, financial, physical and, above all, cultural oppression, but surely things have not got so bad that one of its leading politicians is incapable of understanding the very simple fact that blogging is the first medium in which “the public” is both consumer and producer? There is no distinction between the public and bloggers, they are one and the same. Or do you think that is exactly why Ms Mikko wants to turn up the regulation machine a notch or two? Yes, I think you could be right.

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