Letter: 29 March, 2013

Law already covers internet

I EMPATHISE entirely with Bob Bounds’ concerns that local media is being punished for the sins of others (Messenger, March 22).

I have been a blogger for some six-and-a-half years and, at the time of writing this, it is legally unclear whether I, too, would fall into the remit of the Royal Charter.

I am in the final year of my law degree* and dedicated months on the effects of media law on internet users, particularly in relation to defamation. I concluded that the law had continued to evolve effectively to encompass those who use the internet as well as the traditional media.

I have always been careful never to stray into what is legal and what is not – unlike a significant section the national media (not simply News International, as recent revelations have proved). However, as Mr Bounds correctly points out, the genuine wrongdoing suffered at the hands of those journalists is already illegal; the culprits already arrested and, in some cases, charged.

Much as the Hacked Off campaign has manipulated the Leveson Report, so too have our shameless elected representatives manipulated the Hacked Off campaign to finally meet their own ends: To end over 300 years of press freedom and control the media (and, potentially, the blogosphere) with their own Ministry of Truth).

Many articles I have written in the past could have prompted the subject to complain to this state regulator because they did not like what I wrote. The same is true for the Medway Messenger; without even reading the contents of the edition this is printed in, I would wager that there is at least one article which is not breaking any laws, but which could fall foul of the new Orwellian regulations.

No Member of Parliament who voted for this ill-conceived, dictatorial hash job, nor any future candidate who has voiced support for it, is fit for office. I congratulate Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch for having the courage to stand up for what is right but note with utter dismay that Rehman Chishti, who courted the media for maximum exposure before the general election, has betrayed those same journalists in supporting the Royal Charter.

The Press Complaints Commission was ineffective, out of date and needed replacing, but not by a state-sanctioned censor more familiar to China or North Korea, at the mercy of politicians often with axes to grind.

Alan Collins,
Goudhurst Road, Gillingham

* Regular readers will know that, far from being in my final year of my law degree, I in fact graduated in July 2011. This was an error which occurred when the Medway Messenger edited my original letter for length.

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