UK Press Complaints Commissioner: “no means of redress”

Ahh, the BBC reports a UK Press Complaints Commissioner told a conference this week that there should be a voluntary code of practice for blogs. Hmm, nice thought, but never will happen. Why? Cause a large percentage of bloggers don’t type their goods in the UK. So, who is going to regulate us? And, heck, we can’t agree on anything, including the definition of the word “blog” so you think you’re going to get us all to agree to a code of practice? Yeah, right.

But, then he gets started “on the internet ‘there are no professional standards, there is no means of redress.'”

Oh, that’s poppycock. If someone throws you under the bus on the Internet YOU CAN RESPOND ON YOUR OWN BLOG! And then the readers can decide the truth for themselves.  That’s what I just did.

Libel and slander laws still apply here, if you want to go that route. But I’ll take this world over the “professional only” world anyday of the week.

Me thinks this guy senses the end of his job and is grasping at ropes trying to keep it.

Comments

  1. the PPC doing a Job

    Huh that will be the day I bet most brits think the THE PCC is window dressing – the Tabloids still Monster people who get very little redress.

    I doubt the average Tab editor or owner has professional standards, or offers a means of redress.

  2. the PPC doing a Job

    Huh that will be the day I bet most brits think the THE PCC is window dressing – the Tabloids still Monster people who get very little redress.

    I doubt the average Tab editor or owner has professional standards, or offers a means of redress.

  3. I’ve got to you agree with you there Robert. If anything is already self-regulating then the blogosphere is IT.
    You flame someone, that spomeone beefs about it on their blog. Someone else reports on that story and the workd turns. Ultimately, if that someone cares about what is beign said abotu them, they redress the situation.

    And to think I pay my license fee for these people!

    Vivre la revolution!

  4. I’ve got to you agree with you there Robert. If anything is already self-regulating then the blogosphere is IT.
    You flame someone, that spomeone beefs about it on their blog. Someone else reports on that story and the workd turns. Ultimately, if that someone cares about what is beign said abotu them, they redress the situation.

    And to think I pay my license fee for these people!

    Vivre la revolution!

  5. It is un-ethical to use this new medium to aid in the end of cave painting which show a much more realistic view of the world than this new fangled web stuff. Besides, the CEO of the CG (Caveman Group)will not stand for this onslaught. The CEO said clubs are now being formed to combat this new technology and the eventual end of the CG. ; ) We only fear what we do not understand.
    Long live the King … ahh Queen … ahh whatever!
    We are the nites who say ….

  6. It is un-ethical to use this new medium to aid in the end of cave painting which show a much more realistic view of the world than this new fangled web stuff. Besides, the CEO of the CG (Caveman Group)will not stand for this onslaught. The CEO said clubs are now being formed to combat this new technology and the eventual end of the CG. ; ) We only fear what we do not understand.
    Long live the King … ahh Queen … ahh whatever!
    We are the nites who say ….

  7. [...] The second I missed by a country mile. Yes, the UK Press Complaints Commission director does in fact seem to be in favour of an internet voluntary code of conduct. Alas, this is not parody. This code, it would seem, would solve the ‘problem’ of no professional standards or redress on the internet. But there’s more – “Former Downing Street spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who chaired the session organised by the Commission for Racial Equality, said blogs were “perceived as a positive development” but added that “some of the most offensive stuff” comes from them.” (Funny, I thought the offensive stuff came from Campbell …) Sigh. Months ago, in a roundtable I chaired on net libel, I wondered out loud whether even defamation laws were really as necessary in an age when anyone could have their own soapbox, and use it to respond to false statements. As Scoble notes, the redress (that the PCC thinks one gets from a complaints process) is to – wait for it – respond on your own blog.              Related Posts [...]

  8. What kind of code would you sign up to?

    Even if it was voluntary?

    Voluntary codes are really interesting, because, at least in theory, they can, at their best, represent mutually acknowledged aspirations, rather than coercion.

    Robert has a rule which kind of says: ‘correct anything that you publish as soon as you believe it needs to be corrected’.

    This is a great rule!

    What is wrong with having that in a voluntary code of conduct?

    Sure, if the thing that you ought to correct is getting a lot of attention, then the extent to which you might mislead others by not correcting is diminished by the fact that others may have ‘done the correcting for you’.

    But this ‘correct early’ rule is still a good guideline for the new blogger.

    I think it might be valuable to have a ‘voluntary code of conduct’ collectively put together by bloggers, as a helpful resource for new bloggers.

    If they want to break the rules, the ‘court of the blogosphere’ (and the mainstream media) will be their judge, but there is no reason not to have a ‘blog complaints commission’ which would help to bridge the interface between a largely ‘blogosphere-ignorant’ general public and the blognoscenti.

    The commission will only have ‘notional power’ just like any other blog, but it may nonetheless fill a valuable role (acting a bit like a ‘lightning rod’ in attracting complaints) in educating people as to the fact that, in the blogosphere, the appropriate response to the inevitable popular political sentiment that “something needs to be done” when someone says something you don’t like, is not “punish them” or “shut them down” (because in many cases it may not be possible to do this) but instead “join the blogosphere, get the correction out there”.

    The reason why this educational requirement is even more important than Robert’s injunction to “just blog your response” is because even if someone knows what blogs are and they also know that they can blog a response themselves, the notion that their blog voice can be heard loudly enough to correct anything false that has gained wide public attention will seem totally unrealistic to anyone who is not already a successful blogger.

  9. What kind of code would you sign up to?

    Even if it was voluntary?

    Voluntary codes are really interesting, because, at least in theory, they can, at their best, represent mutually acknowledged aspirations, rather than coercion.

    Robert has a rule which kind of says: ‘correct anything that you publish as soon as you believe it needs to be corrected’.

    This is a great rule!

    What is wrong with having that in a voluntary code of conduct?

    Sure, if the thing that you ought to correct is getting a lot of attention, then the extent to which you might mislead others by not correcting is diminished by the fact that others may have ‘done the correcting for you’.

    But this ‘correct early’ rule is still a good guideline for the new blogger.

    I think it might be valuable to have a ‘voluntary code of conduct’ collectively put together by bloggers, as a helpful resource for new bloggers.

    If they want to break the rules, the ‘court of the blogosphere’ (and the mainstream media) will be their judge, but there is no reason not to have a ‘blog complaints commission’ which would help to bridge the interface between a largely ‘blogosphere-ignorant’ general public and the blognoscenti.

    The commission will only have ‘notional power’ just like any other blog, but it may nonetheless fill a valuable role (acting a bit like a ‘lightning rod’ in attracting complaints) in educating people as to the fact that, in the blogosphere, the appropriate response to the inevitable popular political sentiment that “something needs to be done” when someone says something you don’t like, is not “punish them” or “shut them down” (because in many cases it may not be possible to do this) but instead “join the blogosphere, get the correction out there”.

    The reason why this educational requirement is even more important than Robert’s injunction to “just blog your response” is because even if someone knows what blogs are and they also know that they can blog a response themselves, the notion that their blog voice can be heard loudly enough to correct anything false that has gained wide public attention will seem totally unrealistic to anyone who is not already a successful blogger.

  10. the notion that their blog voice can be heard loudly enough to correct anything false that has gained wide public attention will seem totally unrealistic to anyone who is not already a successful blogger.

    This is a very important factor. When one “A” list blogger points the finger at another, they have a fair amount of clout to counter-punch.

    The UK Press Complaints Commissioner might have never heard of Robert Scoble, might not have his own blog etc.

    Also in the press when they make a correction or retraction, they normally have to be careful to give it a similar weighting as the original article. I don’t know the exact rules.
    This doesn’t seem to happen very often in the blogosphere.

    Blogging can also be very one sided. A very low percentage click through to reference articles.

    Libel and slander laws still apply here

    Following voluntary standards helps in many legal situations.

  11. the notion that their blog voice can be heard loudly enough to correct anything false that has gained wide public attention will seem totally unrealistic to anyone who is not already a successful blogger.

    This is a very important factor. When one “A” list blogger points the finger at another, they have a fair amount of clout to counter-punch.

    The UK Press Complaints Commissioner might have never heard of Robert Scoble, might not have his own blog etc.

    Also in the press when they make a correction or retraction, they normally have to be careful to give it a similar weighting as the original article. I don’t know the exact rules.
    This doesn’t seem to happen very often in the blogosphere.

    Blogging can also be very one sided. A very low percentage click through to reference articles.

    Libel and slander laws still apply here

    Following voluntary standards helps in many legal situations.

  12. The W3C is working on a replacement for PICs. This new content-label will enable people to be verified against a common code of conduct (3C). The first is compliance to the WAI code of conduct and the newest will be to the mobile OK standard. These codes of conduct are not draconian but published openly and available for all.

    The second part of this is a company called Segala in Ireland have created a FF plugin which enables you the consumer to set your own preferences.

    For example you do a search in Google and back comes a long list of sites. You then choose to set your preference to show only those sites that are verified as WAI compliant. Like a greasemonkey script suddenly only those compliant sites are listed.

    Now extend that to other codes of conduct, ecommerce, advertising even blogging which are voluntarily signed up to and I might therefore only wish to view blogs that agree to adhere to the blogging code of conduct. This might mean having a creative commons license and also agreeing to change any misquotes etc.

    The blogging one is probably the hardest to see working but an ecommerce one were the supplier agrees to deliver goods in 24hrs, has a returns policy etc. Now I might only wish to see those ecommerce sites that are certified.

    In some ways this is very hard to grasp but these are actually like the first set of community laws. I’m not sure they will work but I am willing to look at this with an open mind for now.

  13. The W3C is working on a replacement for PICs. This new content-label will enable people to be verified against a common code of conduct (3C). The first is compliance to the WAI code of conduct and the newest will be to the mobile OK standard. These codes of conduct are not draconian but published openly and available for all.

    The second part of this is a company called Segala in Ireland have created a FF plugin which enables you the consumer to set your own preferences.

    For example you do a search in Google and back comes a long list of sites. You then choose to set your preference to show only those sites that are verified as WAI compliant. Like a greasemonkey script suddenly only those compliant sites are listed.

    Now extend that to other codes of conduct, ecommerce, advertising even blogging which are voluntarily signed up to and I might therefore only wish to view blogs that agree to adhere to the blogging code of conduct. This might mean having a creative commons license and also agreeing to change any misquotes etc.

    The blogging one is probably the hardest to see working but an ecommerce one were the supplier agrees to deliver goods in 24hrs, has a returns policy etc. Now I might only wish to see those ecommerce sites that are certified.

    In some ways this is very hard to grasp but these are actually like the first set of community laws. I’m not sure they will work but I am willing to look at this with an open mind for now.

  14. I’m not a fan of the present day usage of the word “professional” or “professionalism”. Too often it seems that this only applies to being paid for ones work (e.g. a paid Journalist), with the concept of amateurs being professional in their approach dismissed by many.

    Besides, how do many of the “professional” standards get drawn up, by the people living and breathing that which is being regulated.

  15. I’m not a fan of the present day usage of the word “professional” or “professionalism”. Too often it seems that this only applies to being paid for ones work (e.g. a paid Journalist), with the concept of amateurs being professional in their approach dismissed by many.

    Besides, how do many of the “professional” standards get drawn up, by the people living and breathing that which is being regulated.

  16. Let’s take the case of Steve Rubel though and the Wal-Mart / Edelman scandal.

    Steve was not involved in any of the decisions to create fake blogs but Edelman used Steve’s widely-heard voice to ensure that some degree of parity and redress was sent through the blogosphere.

    OK, the Mr. Peabody principle remains – you can’t reach all those poisoned by the initial contact – but attempting to make it right is as good as you are going to get in the blogosphere.

    Similarly, when Steve first moved to Edelman, the blogosphere was awash with criticism that his posts would favour Edelman clients. He responded on his blog by setting out clear “rules of engagement” surrounding his postings.

    After all, if newspapers print something dubious, they don’t use another medium to advertise the apology – they use the same medium with which the offence was caused. Blogs are no different.

  17. Let’s take the case of Steve Rubel though and the Wal-Mart / Edelman scandal.

    Steve was not involved in any of the decisions to create fake blogs but Edelman used Steve’s widely-heard voice to ensure that some degree of parity and redress was sent through the blogosphere.

    OK, the Mr. Peabody principle remains – you can’t reach all those poisoned by the initial contact – but attempting to make it right is as good as you are going to get in the blogosphere.

    Similarly, when Steve first moved to Edelman, the blogosphere was awash with criticism that his posts would favour Edelman clients. He responded on his blog by setting out clear “rules of engagement” surrounding his postings.

    After all, if newspapers print something dubious, they don’t use another medium to advertise the apology – they use the same medium with which the offence was caused. Blogs are no different.

  18. Regarding: “If someone throws you under the bus on the Internet YOU CAN RESPOND ON YOUR OWN BLOG!”

    And if you’re not an A-lister, NOBODY WILL HEAR YOU! :-(

    “Libel and slander laws still apply here,” – actually, “section 230″ has opened up an absolutely massive loophole in libel law for prominent bloggers to smear with impunity. But that’s another topic.

  19. Regarding: “If someone throws you under the bus on the Internet YOU CAN RESPOND ON YOUR OWN BLOG!”

    And if you’re not an A-lister, NOBODY WILL HEAR YOU! :-(

    “Libel and slander laws still apply here,” – actually, “section 230″ has opened up an absolutely massive loophole in libel law for prominent bloggers to smear with impunity. But that’s another topic.

  20. There are plenty of examples of voluntary codes of practice that do work, (work in the sense of provide some level of confidence to groups of customers who value such things.)

    I’ll pick a couple of UK examples in my own industry:

    Example A – a national example: Anyone in the UK can set up as a residential letting agent (someone who finds tenants to rent properties for landlords.) This is unregulated, and anyone with at least one of a telephone, a street address, or a website can trade here. HOWEVER, there is a body – the Association of Residential Letting Agents – which such agents can join. The primary “cost” of joining is an agreement to be bound by the code of practice, and an agreement to submit to arbitration by the trade body if there are disputes. Ergo “membership” = “agreement to a voluntary code”. This works well – about 80% of letting agents are ARLA members, because a substantial proportion of landlords and tenants recognise the benefits of dealing with someone who subscribes to that code.

    Example B – a local (City) example: Anyone in the UK who owns a house can let it out as a private landlord without licencing (with some minor exceptions of houses let as multiple rooms, which affect about 10% of the rental stock.) HOWEVER, many landlords in Brighton agree to sumbit to the voluntary code of practice set by the SPLA (Southern Private Landlords Association) – a Brighton-based organisation that now operates some services across more of UK. This works because enough tenants value the “seal of approval” that voluntary submission to the code of practice gives.

    A code of practice can have value to SOME customers if as few as half-a-dozen service providers follow it. It doesn’t need to appeal to a MAJORITY of customers to have benefit.

  21. There are plenty of examples of voluntary codes of practice that do work, (work in the sense of provide some level of confidence to groups of customers who value such things.)

    I’ll pick a couple of UK examples in my own industry:

    Example A – a national example: Anyone in the UK can set up as a residential letting agent (someone who finds tenants to rent properties for landlords.) This is unregulated, and anyone with at least one of a telephone, a street address, or a website can trade here. HOWEVER, there is a body – the Association of Residential Letting Agents – which such agents can join. The primary “cost” of joining is an agreement to be bound by the code of practice, and an agreement to submit to arbitration by the trade body if there are disputes. Ergo “membership” = “agreement to a voluntary code”. This works well – about 80% of letting agents are ARLA members, because a substantial proportion of landlords and tenants recognise the benefits of dealing with someone who subscribes to that code.

    Example B – a local (City) example: Anyone in the UK who owns a house can let it out as a private landlord without licencing (with some minor exceptions of houses let as multiple rooms, which affect about 10% of the rental stock.) HOWEVER, many landlords in Brighton agree to sumbit to the voluntary code of practice set by the SPLA (Southern Private Landlords Association) – a Brighton-based organisation that now operates some services across more of UK. This works because enough tenants value the “seal of approval” that voluntary submission to the code of practice gives.

    A code of practice can have value to SOME customers if as few as half-a-dozen service providers follow it. It doesn’t need to appeal to a MAJORITY of customers to have benefit.

  22. “And if you’re not an A-lister, NOBODY WILL HEAR YOU!”

    Umm if you’re like me and your blog has little readership (for whatever reason) people probably don’t know who you are. Impact of the slander (or whatever) is small… The people who don’t hear you are probably the people who never knew who you were anyway.

    If, however, you are really concerned about it – trackback your response correctly and the original blog _should_ (barring any nefarious fiddling / filtering) show a link to your complaint.

    If you don’t have a blog on which to respond … see Robert Scoble’s reasons people should have a blog.

    The only time this could become an issue in my opinion is where the “wronged” party does not know that have been “wronged” in which case there are 2 possibilities:
    1) No one cares.
    2) If someone _does_ care – they can complain on their own blog on behalf of the “wronged” party (See above…)

  23. “And if you’re not an A-lister, NOBODY WILL HEAR YOU!”

    Umm if you’re like me and your blog has little readership (for whatever reason) people probably don’t know who you are. Impact of the slander (or whatever) is small… The people who don’t hear you are probably the people who never knew who you were anyway.

    If, however, you are really concerned about it – trackback your response correctly and the original blog _should_ (barring any nefarious fiddling / filtering) show a link to your complaint.

    If you don’t have a blog on which to respond … see Robert Scoble’s reasons people should have a blog.

    The only time this could become an issue in my opinion is where the “wronged” party does not know that have been “wronged” in which case there are 2 possibilities:
    1) No one cares.
    2) If someone _does_ care – they can complain on their own blog on behalf of the “wronged” party (See above…)

  24. If someone found your website for them to find it offensive in the first place, then they damn well knwo where to look to see if you give a toss about rectifying it – A-lister or not.

    It is just like those do-gooders who flash you at dusk because you haven’t got your car headlights on…if they can bloody well see you enough to tell you that you haven’t got your lights on then surely they can see you anyway!

  25. If someone found your website for them to find it offensive in the first place, then they damn well knwo where to look to see if you give a toss about rectifying it – A-lister or not.

    It is just like those do-gooders who flash you at dusk because you haven’t got your car headlights on…if they can bloody well see you enough to tell you that you haven’t got your lights on then surely they can see you anyway!

  26. That’s the libel-doesn’t-matter argument. It should be very clear that is false under extremely reasonable assumptions. Note there are plenty of ways one can come to notice of the powers that be – minor political involvement, being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a news event, or even just writing something about an A-lister which annoys them and they lash out.

    It boggles my mind that this can be a serious issue these days, when is clear that the top bloggers are by rational measures like syndicated columnists, versus the near-total obscurity of most everyone else.

    Look, if you’re going to believe that libel doesn’t matter, you might just as well say it doesn’t matter if the biggest news anchor of the MSM lies about you on national TV, ’cause anyone who cares can just ask you if it was true or not, and if they don’t ask, well, they aren’t good people anyway. So either you believe it matters or you don’t, but pretending works equally well anywhere else.

  27. That’s the libel-doesn’t-matter argument. It should be very clear that is false under extremely reasonable assumptions. Note there are plenty of ways one can come to notice of the powers that be – minor political involvement, being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a news event, or even just writing something about an A-lister which annoys them and they lash out.

    It boggles my mind that this can be a serious issue these days, when is clear that the top bloggers are by rational measures like syndicated columnists, versus the near-total obscurity of most everyone else.

    Look, if you’re going to believe that libel doesn’t matter, you might just as well say it doesn’t matter if the biggest news anchor of the MSM lies about you on national TV, ’cause anyone who cares can just ask you if it was true or not, and if they don’t ask, well, they aren’t good people anyway. So either you believe it matters or you don’t, but pretending works equally well anywhere else.

  28. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying Seth. I agree with you and Robert that libel is libel whether it is written in print or on the web. My point is simply that whatever the untruth/accusation etc., if it comes out on the web (in particular via the blogosphere) then there is at least some form of redress.

    If the MSN anchor lies about me on TV (it would be great to get any sort of a mention!!) I agree, there is little chance of global redress from my blog, but if he did the same thing on his blog and the lie circulated, my ability to answer back is in my hands via his blog.

    I honestly think that the blogosphere is already self-regulating within the existing libel laws.

  29. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying Seth. I agree with you and Robert that libel is libel whether it is written in print or on the web. My point is simply that whatever the untruth/accusation etc., if it comes out on the web (in particular via the blogosphere) then there is at least some form of redress.

    If the MSN anchor lies about me on TV (it would be great to get any sort of a mention!!) I agree, there is little chance of global redress from my blog, but if he did the same thing on his blog and the lie circulated, my ability to answer back is in my hands via his blog.

    I honestly think that the blogosphere is already self-regulating within the existing libel laws.

  30. Voluntary Codes of Practice?

    Interesting discussion going on here about whether or not there needs to be a code of practice (voluntary or otherwise) for bloggers. Personally I think the web (and the blogosphere in general) is the area where we have a) the most liberty and b) the b…

  31. Let’s see…is this the same UK Press Complaints Commissioner that has acted as the “truth” commission for the rumors, scandal, lies, calumny, hearsay, ridicule, character assassination, and propoganda of the London tabloids and the other rags in Britain that pretend to be “news” papers? If this is true, and with the BBC as the source that is questionable, it’s laughable.

  32. Let’s see…is this the same UK Press Complaints Commissioner that has acted as the “truth” commission for the rumors, scandal, lies, calumny, hearsay, ridicule, character assassination, and propoganda of the London tabloids and the other rags in Britain that pretend to be “news” papers? If this is true, and with the BBC as the source that is questionable, it’s laughable.

  33. The Learned Commissioner is a child-molesting, terrorist-supporting, drug abusing, tax evading, red-light-running, puppy-strangling, low-tipping, candy-from-baby-stealing, scruffy, ill-bred, and pompous git.
    No doubt he will now have a conniption. Petty tyrants really don’t like being made fun of.

  34. The Learned Commissioner is a child-molesting, terrorist-supporting, drug abusing, tax evading, red-light-running, puppy-strangling, low-tipping, candy-from-baby-stealing, scruffy, ill-bred, and pompous git.
    No doubt he will now have a conniption. Petty tyrants really don’t like being made fun of.