Friday, 17 July 2009

New internet watchdog can order bloggers to take down offensive messages or photos

Internet users will be protected from abusive bloggers and malicious Facebook postings under proposals to set up an independent internet watchdog, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

New internet watchdog to police Facebook
By Nicole Martin, Digital and Media Correspondent
The Daily Telegraph
Published: 29 July 2008
The body, made up of industry representatives, would be responsible for drawing up guidelines that social networking sites, the blogosphere, website owners and search engines would be expected to follow.
The recommendation is one of several that the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee is expected to make in its long-awaited report on harmful content on the internet and in video games.

Under the proposals, the new internet watchdog would operate in a similar way to other industry bodies such as the Press Complaints Commission, which enforces a code of practice for the UK newspaper and magazine industry, covering accuracy, discrimination and intrusion.
The watchdog would not have any statutory powers to impose fines but would investigate complaints and most likely publish its decisions in instances when its guidelines have been breached.
It is understood that it would also be able to order bloggers and social networking sites such as Bebo and MySpace to take down offensive messages or photographs.
A source who has seen the report said that the committee wanted to give the public "a form of redress" "At the moment consumers don't know where to go if they want to complaint about something they have seen on the internet," the source said. "The absence of any industry body is leading to a great deal of confusion and to widely differing practices.
"The idea is that a self-regulatory body like the Advertising Standards Authority would be set up to make sure that members, including, internet companies and search engines, subscribe to the code and abide by rulings."
The proposals follow a rash of complaints about malicious and inaccurate postings on Facebook and other social networking sites.
A British businessman was last week awarded £22,000 libel damages from a school friend who made false accusations against him on a fake Facebook profile.

Mathew Firscht launched the High Court action after inaccurate claims about his sexuality and political viewers were posted on the site.

A woman also recently claimed that her life had been destroyed by strangers who stole her identity and set up a Facebook profile describing her as a prostitute.

Kerry Harvey, 23, received unsolicited calls from "punters" who found her details, including her date of birth and mobile phone number, on the site.

Proposals for an internet watchdog come only weeks after the Government pledged to set up a new UK Council for Child Internet Safety made up of figures from the Government, children's charities, parents and young people.

The council, which will report to the Prime Minister, was one of the recommendations made by Dr Tanya Byron, the television psychologist, in her Government-commissioned report on the dangers of video games and unsupervised use of the internet.

Ministers also plan to launch a £9 million advertising campaign to raise awareness of the internet. Dr Byron's report urged parents to take an interest in what their children were watching online.

She said that a "digital divide" was developing within families as children mastered the internet and video games while their parents, grandparents and carers too often had little clue about the material they were looking at.

I've been left a rather disgusting message attacking my sexuality on facebook from someone I dont even know ..i complained to facebook 3 times..and guess what ..NO REPLY. I'm thinking of taking it further and this whole watchdog group couldnt come at a better time. - iestyn on August 14, 2008

Hear! Hear! Kay Tie. There are a lot more people who agree with what you say than those opposed to freedom of speech think. Our day will come! - Victimlesscriminal on August 03, 2008

You know why this is happening: the internet is libertarian by nature, the Left has few quality blogs, and so the usual coalition of the Left will crush opposition by legislation. Cutting out robust criticism is a direct attack on democracy. The Left always go too far and sometimes they go beyond the ability for democracy to restrain them, as happened in Spain in the '30s. Let us hope that the Labour Party disintegrates before things get nasty. - Kay Tie on July 30, 2008

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1 comment:

  1. I applaud the British authorities for recognizing the need for this type of moderation and common sense. There is far too much impulsive and malicious Internet libel without adequate remedies for its victims.

    Businesses, relationships, families, and careers are so easily destroyed by Internet libel.

    Michael Roberts of