Blog czar bad for you

By | 16th February 2012

As an occasional blogger, it is sometimes interesting to see what other people think of the activity. I say sometimes, because, by its very nature, the activity of blogging attracts all sorts of people and repels many others.

Occasionally, truly excellent comment is made about blogs and the whole ambit of social media and as I trade in these to some extent, I thought I would share with you the views of a witness to the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking and the press.

The statement of Francis FitzGibbon QC came to my attention via Twitter (and his blog Nothing like The Sun). It contains his views on the ethics of blogging, the possibility of effective regulation of the blogosphere and the simple rules he believes all serious bloggers should adopt. It covers much more in the course of its 40 paragraphs over 10 pages.

Does Mr FitzGibbon think there should be a blog czar? The answer is an emphatic “No”. As Mr FitzGibbon says at paragraph 27 of his statement to the inquiry:

Unless there were a system of registration for every blogger, and a sensible definition of just what came within the system’s jurisdiction, a national regulatory system could never cover all blogs. And even if that could be achieved, enforcement of sanctions would be near impossible. I could simply close my blog and start another one somewhere else, or operate anonymously and untraceably. The models of effective control of across-the-board internet content, typically by blocking access to selected websites as in China, Burma, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, are not compatible with our right to free expression – and even they cannot entirely suppress it. On the other hand, an ineffective system is pointless. I don’t think that regulation of the whole blogosphere by anything less than out-and-out censorship would have a chilling effect on free expression – it would have no effect; and the effort required would be out of all proportion to the good it would do.

As I know from long personal experience of public inquiries, not every statement obtained by an inquiry has the power and quality to inspire or even to be faintly interesting. This is one of the exceptions.

Please read the statement. It is well worth it:

The Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practices & Ethics of the Press:
Witness Statement by Francis FitzGibbon QC