People in the US, who take notions of Freedom of Expression and Private Property for granted, will be astonished by the latest steaming pile of wisdom to emerge from the clenched cheeks of our European would-be masters. Declan McCullagh reports:
The all-but-final proposal draft says that Internet news organizations, individual Web sites, moderated mailing lists and even Web logs (or “blogs”), must offer a “right of reply” to those who have been criticized by a person or organization.
With clinical precision, the council’s bureaucracy had decided exactly what would be required. Some excerpts from its proposal:
- “The reply should be made publicly available in a prominent place for a period of time (that) is at least equal to the period of time during which the contested information was publicly available, but, in any case, no less than for 24 hours.”
- Hyperlinking to a reply is acceptable. “It may be considered sufficient to publish (the reply) or make available a link to it” from the spot of the original mention.
- “So long as the contested information is available online, the reply should be attached to it, for example through a clearly visible link.”
- Long replies are fine. “There should be flexibility regarding the length of the reply, since there are (fewer) capacity limits for content than (there are) in off-line media.”
It’s pretty zany to imagine that just about every form of online publishing, from full-time news organizations to occasional bloggers to moderated chat rooms, would be covered. But it’s no accident. A January 2003 draft envisioned regulating only “professional on-line media.” Two months later, a March 2003 draft dropped the word “professional” and intentionally covered all “online media” of any type.
Read the whole article.
So what is the message to the EU I mentioned in the title? Simple:
We will not comply
We have a comments section on samizdata.net in which people can and do comment about what we write, but access to that comment section is at our capricious discretion. If we decide we want to IP ban someone or want to delete their remarks from our comments section because we think they are offensive, or even if they are not offensive but we just bloody well feel like doing it because we have a headache, then we bloody well will. This is our private property.
We are already hosted on a server in the USA and I am quite confident our hosters would tell the EU where they can stick any demands to yank us off the net because we decline to submit to political moderation of the form our free speech takes on our private property (i.e. the server space we rent from them). If we have to go entirely pseudonymous and log onto Samizdata.net in order to post via ‘dead drop’ servers rather than submit to EU regulation of how we manage the information on our blog, then that is exactly what those of us who post from within the rapidly emerging EU tyranny will do. We utterly reject political moderation of free speech in civil society. This is not about giving people a voice but rather about replacing social interaction (which is what true free speech is), with political interaction mediated and mandated by the state.
If these regulations become the law of the EU (as seems likely), we will not obey, we will not cooperate, we will not accept that anyone has a ‘right’ to reply on our blog. Do you think we have said nasty things about you and want to reply regardless of our unwillingness to let you use our comment section? Fine…go to blogger.com, sign up (for free), click on ‘create a new blog’ and voila… you have your own blog on which you can scream about how those mean old Samizdatistas ‘done you wrong’ to your heart’s content.
And if the EU says we have to let you comment… tough shit, it ain’t gonna happen. The people who write for Samizdata.net all now live next door to Samizdata Illuminatus, in Arkham, Massachusetts.