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UK Press Complaints Commission calls for ‘voluntary code of conduct for blogs’

Blogs and other internet sites should be covered by a voluntary code of practice similar to that for newspapers in the UK, a conference has been told. Press Complaints Commission director Tim Toulmin said he opposed government regulation of the internet, saying it should a place “in which views bloom”. But unless there was a voluntary code of conduct there would be no form of redress for people angered at content.


It is extraordinary how people opine without understanding the subject. It seems like Mr. Toulmin understand nothing whatsoever about the internet. There is indeed a “form of redress for people angered at content” on blogs available and that is… blogs. It is extremely simple: go to blogger.com, spend about five minutes doing the ‘three easy steps’ and then start posting your rebuttals on your own damn blog.

As for a voluntary code of conduct… I invite Tim Toulmin to ask his lawyer to write one down on a piece of paper, roll the document up tightly and then stick it wherever his lawyer’s imagination and Mr. Toulmin complacency will allow. I look forward to being told off for that remark when Tim Toulmin sets up his own blog.

For another similar view to mine, see here.

12 comments to UK Press Complaints Commission calls for ‘voluntary code of conduct for blogs’

  • Thank you for the link Perry.

    “roll the document up tightly and then stick it wherever his lawyer’s imagination and Mr. Toulmin complacency will allow”

    I, however, at least have the decency to ask Mr Toulmin to issue his rebuttal in the comments section of the post at the Select Society…

    On a more frivolous note, it is nice to see the typo in the BBC’s headline being recorded for posterity.

  • I think this is worth thinking about. All we need to do is draw up a code of conduct so vague and unbinding that its basically useless. If we swamp the state with its own bureaucracy then it’ll eventually collapse under its own weight.

  • Julian Taylor

    Thank you so much for the post! I so needed a really good belly laugh right now and the moment I read it guffaws resulted.

    Derisory laughter is what civil servants like Toulmin loathe, and is all that they deserve.

    Thanks again.

  • qaqwex

    I volunteer (for a salary of around £120,00 – that’s the going rate) to be Blog Overseer General. I promise to be as completely useless as the Information Commissioner, The Water Regulator, The head of OFCOM, The Press Complaints Council and the IPCC in protecting the public from the evil ways of those I am supposed to regulate.

    As befits my title I would enjoy telling complainants to “BOG off” in dismissing their complaints.

    My office would be cheap to run as all it would consist of a server somewhere auto responding to complaints (which must be emailed) with the above message whist I investigate regulation in nice warm countries.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    “no form of redress for people angered at content”

    This beggars belief. Fuck people angered at content. I can’t tell if these fucking morons actually think that anyone anywhere who is ever angered by anything should be able to have redress, or if they just say it because they’ve been trained to.

  • jonathan riley

    Mr de Havilland,

    Just to say the article you link to from the beeb is itself a typical piece of crap bbc writing; baby talk quotes, no author attributed (unless i’m missing something), precious little about where, when and in what context mr toulmin spoke, and even a subheading in the wrong place! And these are the professionals mr toulmin thinks we’re supposed to look to, eh? How very old world of him.

  • Going somewhat against the grain here, I do think we should have a voluntary code of conduct for blogs.

    Every blog should be allowed to set its own code of conduct. Furthermore, blogs should be allowed to club together, voluntarily, to have a joint code of coduct (which they can advertise on their banner pages etc).

    Where are we now on this issue?

    Can we do better?

    Best regards

  • Nick M

    I shall be “Blog Czar” and do a better job than qaqwex!

    This is such utter bollocks it is beyond contempt.

    You would almost think HM Government invented the internet and built the infrastructure for it. How wrong is that? We all know it was really Al Gore. He laid the fibre-optics and all – a real 1990s John Henry.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course “voluntary” means compulsory.

    As for the “code of conduct” – if anyone signed, it would be used as a excuse for action (or quiet threats of action) against them (the code would be written in a nice vague way).

    It would be much the same as the situation in Belgium as regards home schooling “of course we still allow the right accepted in the 1831 Constitution for homeschooling – as long as you sign this declaration”.

    Of course anyone who signs the declaration (inspired by various U.N. and other international documents) lays themselves open to inspectors – who will take their children away if they are not being taught certain political and religious opinions.

    It will be the same with blogs. “Oh you have said something hostile to Islam – we can not allow such hatred to spread, it undermines our multicultural society” (or whatever).

    If someone thinks I have libeled them they can sue me – I am happy to take my chances before a jury. Otherwise they can go and jump into the North Sea.

  • Midwesterner

    I had begun to think all of the commenters had missed the danger. Paul didn’t. He summed it up very well.

    Voluntary” is that stage between lighting the fire and a full rolling boil. Don’t let anyone light it. That is just the start of a transition phase.

  • The Beeb is so terrified about no longer having the monopoly on the information/opinion market. They must be like children waking up from a nightmare. “Mommy, make the monsters go away!”

    Redress: comboxes.

  • Hi Guys,

    Found great place to contribute your complaints (Link)to world wide web. Feel free to use it. Really easy interface.