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EU to ban blogs

by Starvid Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:22:32 PM EST

On September 22 this fall, the European Parliament will vote on the legal position of the European Tribune and all other blogs. The resolution which will include measures to make legal action against blogs easier, regulate the content of blogs, and require licensing and registering to operate a blog is sponsored by Estonian Socialist MEP Marianne Mikko.


MEP Marianne Mikko.


Mikko believes that:

The blogosphere has so far been a place for good and relatively honest purposes. But when blogs become trivial, people with weaker principles also want to use them. [Bloggers] are in a position where they can substantially contaminate cyberspace. We already have to much spam, desinformation and evil intents in cyberspace.

Contaminate!

Well this is pissing me off so much that I can't really write what I think of it, as I guess it might result in the EU taking retroactive legal action against me.

We can still stop this horrible aggression against free speech, even though the EP Cultural Comittee has already accepted her initial draft, with the innocent sounding name "editorial independence and media pluralism".

This has become a major news item here in Sweden due to the efforts of bloggers, and all our EP's who have been asked about this have promised to vote against it (even though all but one of our soc dems have as of yet refused to comment on the issue, which is rather worrying as Mikko is a party friend of theirs).

On the other hand, the rest of the European media is completely silent on this issue. The rest of Europe must be made aware of this threat against our freedom so we can act against it.

But we must hurry! Mail your MEP's (especially the Socialist ones) and ask how they will vote on this issue, what you think of this, and how it will affect your voting in the next EP election.

Sending a few mails is a very easy thing to do, compared to the struggles our forefathers had to fight to achieve the freedoms this MEP is trying to take away.

Send some e-mails. I just did.

...

And yes... Considering all this it should not come as a surprise that Mikko holds a Soviet degree in journalism, which she recieved in... 1984. No, I'm not kidding.

PS. According to a mail sent from Swedish liberal-conservative MEP Charlotte Cederschiöld, the real reason behind this resolution is to protect traditional media from competition. This is highly interesting as Mikko has claimed there are completely different motives behind her scheme...

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Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:39:33 PM EST
<snark>I thought Europeans understood the need to impose limits on the freedom of speech, because look what happened when you let the Nazis speak...</snark>

Jesus!  This makes me want to wretch!  How is this even possible?  "Contaminate?"  <-- Isn't that the type of language people like, oh, the Nazis used?!  

You may want to include in your letters the facts that:

Uhm, blogs have already become trivial.  That ship has sailed.

Requiring regulation, licensing and registration has hardly curbed [refuse], disinformation and evil intents in all other media outlets.  See: ... all other media outlets.

You'd think Socialists, of all people, would have learned by now that you cannot prevent people from talking to each other.

Madness.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:46:07 PM EST
Check calender, nope not April 1. Check website, nope, not The Onion, though Ms. Mikko should apply, her talents might be better suited to that line of work.
by MarekNYC on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:54:27 PM EST
Links? Text of resolution? Where does it stand in the EU legislative process?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:54:29 PM EST
Google:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/story_page/058-31021-161-06-24-909-20080605STO30955-2008-0 9-06-2008/default_en.htm

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:00:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just a committee report, with no legal weight?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:07:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How would a law like this be enforced?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They know where you live, don't they? And we just got this Stasi law that will register anything and everything that is written online. Not that it will be used against blogs.

At this juncture.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:19:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The surveillance directive requires the registration of connections, not content (bad enough).

There is, however, always the risk of gold-plating.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was talking about this.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:44:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, things are even worse in Sweden than in Germany...
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:53:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Jérôme knows, the proprietor of a blog has legal responsibilities. That information accompanies domain registration.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about blogs on Blogger.com?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:10:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I assume the same applies unless there is a legal disclaimer. It is a grey area that has not been fully tested in the courts. For instance, is an IP a carrier like a phone company, that cannot be held responsible for conversations on its lines, or is it a publisher? What then is the status of a mobile operator that carries the same information as an IP? How is this squared with the Bush drive to protect retroactively US phone companies from providing wiretapping access to the government?

The ad hoc solution is that corporates like Google and eBay etc have practiced self-censorship rather than fully test in the courts. But at some point there are going to be some very messy cases that could adversely affect freedom of speech - unless we are vigilant.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:30:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I have understood it correctly, it has no direct formal legal weight even if it's voted through. But it would be seen as the EU requesting that national parliaments adapt their laws to this thing, which national parliaments usually do.

I might be wrong though, this EU stuff is pretty complex.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:18:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would also be seen as confirmation that the EU is completely batty.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:21:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's even worse, it's an own initiative report, that is, a hobby horse of the MEP herself
As weblogs represent an important new contribution to media pluralism, there is a need to clarify their status, and to create legal safeguards for use in the event of lawsuits as well as to establish a right to reply, says a recent own initiative report drafted by Estonian Socialist Marianne Mikko. Own initiative reports are drafted by individual MEPs and are not proposals for EU laws. The report was later adopted by Parliament's Culture Committee


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:24:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well it was adopted by a committee in the EP, then. Which is bad enough.

There's no telling with these kinds of initiatives. The current Commission will definitely not be looking for more embarrassment by picking this up. All the same, it might resurface somewhere in the background of a white paper, in a year, or something.

Not an acute threat, but it might be worthwhile to somehow keep a tab on it.

(It's still easy to get angry, because how dumb are these people! As weblogs represent an important new contribution to media pluralism, there is a need [...] to establish a right to reply ... The centre right EPP-ED member did concede however that some legal issues such as [...] the right of reply need to be addressed. You want a right to reply? Get a blog! It's free! It's simple!)

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:45:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You want a right to reply? Post a comment!

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed.

I'd like for all blogs to have comments.

But I don't know if I'd want that to be legally required.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:55:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blogs without comments have a lower readership, generally.

And then, a blog without comments is just a personal webpage. Is Mikko going to require registration of those?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:57:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The report could still be killed by the Plenary.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EP Rules of Procedure:
TITLE II : LEGISLATIVE, BUDGETARY AND OTHER PROCEDURES
CHAPTER 2 : PROCEDURE IN COMMITTEE
Rule 45  : Own-initiative reports

  1.    A committee intending to draw up a report and to submit a motion for a resolution to Parliament on a subject within its competence on which neither a consultation nor a request for an opinion has been referred to it pursuant to Rule 179(1) may do so only with the authorisation of the Conference of Presidents. Where such authorisation is withheld the reason must always be stated.
    The Conference of Presidents shall take a decision on requests for authorisation to draw up reports submitted pursuant to paragraph 1 on the basis of implementing provisions which it shall itself lay down. If a committee's competence to draw up a report for which it has requested authorisation is challenged, the Conference of Presidents shall take a decision within six weeks on the basis of a recommendation from the Conference of Committee Chairmen, or, if no such recommendation is forthcoming, from its chairman. If the Conference of Presidents fails to take a decision within that period, the recommendation shall be declared to have been approved.

  2.    The provisions of this Rule shall apply mutatis mutandis in cases where the Treaties attribute the right of initiative to Parliament.
    In such cases, the Conference of Presidents shall take a decision within two months.
So, an own-initiative report will result in a motion for a resolution.
TITLE IV : RELATIONS WITH OTHER BODIES
CHAPTER 5 : RESOLUTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Rule 113  : Motions for resolutions

  1.    Any Member may table a motion for a resolution on a matter falling within the sphere of activities of the European Union.
    The motion may not comprise more than 200 words.

  2.    The committee responsible shall decide what procedure is to be adopted.
    It may combine the motion for a resolution with other motions for resolutions or reports.
    It may adopt an opinion, which may take the form of a letter.
    It may decide to draw up a report pursuant to Rule 45.

  3.    The authors of a motion for a resolution shall be informed of the decisions of the committee and the Conference of Presidents.

  4.    The report shall contain the text of the motion for a resolution.

  5.    Opinions in the form of a letter addressed to other institutions of the European Union shall be forwarded by the President.

  6.    The author or authors of a motion for a resolution tabled pursuant to Rule 103(2), 108(5) or 115(2) shall be entitled to withdraw it before the final vote.

  7.    A motion for a resolution tabled pursuant to paragraph 1 may be withdrawn by its author, authors or first signatory before the committee responsible has decided, pursuant to paragraph 2, to draw up a report on it.
    Once the motion has been thus taken over by the committee, only the committee shall be empowered to withdraw it up until the opening of the final vote.

  8.    A motion for a resolution withdrawn may be taken over and retabled immediately by a group, a committee or the same number of Members who are entitled to table it.
    Committees have a duty to ensure that motions for resolutions tabled pursuant to this Rule which meet the requirements laid down are followed up and duly referred to in documents produced as a result.


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:54:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was adopted in the Culture and Education committee almost unanimously.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:07:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please tell me that Guardans voted against.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:09:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He proposed some good amendments but I can't yet work out whether they were adopted or not.

 for instance, his amendment No. 9

whereas the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the  diversity of cultural expression attaches considerable importance to the creation of conditions conducive to media diversity.


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:36:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Minutes
Final vote: the draft opinion was adopted by 33 votes to 1, with 0 abstentions.


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:24:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a list of the amendments?

Before flaying them with ethernet cables we should at least find out exactly what they did and didn't vote for.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:33:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amendments here to be cross checked against voting at migu's earlier pdf link

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:38:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The minutes have a list of the amendments "adopte, rejected, fallen and withdrawn".

There is a list of 242 amendments here in PDF.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:41:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now this is interesting:

Motion for a resolution
C. whereas the unrestricted concentration
of ownership might jeopardise pluralism
and cultural diversity and whereas in
certain markets it is approaching a limit
whereby pluralism will no longer be
automatically guaranteed by free market
competition,

Amendment
C. whereas experience shows that the
unrestricted concentration of ownership
jeopardises pluralism and cultural diversity
and whereas a system purely based on free
market competition alone is not able to
guarantee media pluralism,

A few of these around 24, described as 'fallen.'

Good news: Someone is fighting our corner
Bad news: They're not winning.

Even so - getting this into the minutes has to count for something.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:02:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading these pdfs is an insight into an arcane process.

I imagine that - with the enormous amount of written documentation - that sometimes legislation emerges that has been beaten into submission in earlier committees, and bubbles on upwards to the surface of voting as 'accepted wisdom' without the original opposing arguments ever being reconsidered.

I can't decide whether this carefully designed process can be gamed or not.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:21:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having trawled through this, I'm not seeing anything worth getting over-excited about. The most controversial proposal is a call for self-regulation, which is hardly a major legal imposition, and 'clarification of the legal status' of blogs.

I'm not sure how the legal status can be clarified. The law seems clear enough in cases of libel or defamation, and it's not as if tradmedia have a particularly clear legal position.

The rest of the document is some rather limp and half-hearted discussion of tradmed plurality, with a view towards going forward etc etc towards guaranteeing standards and a vague sense of unease that perhaps too many media barons might not be an entirely good thing.

Maybe Brussels can turn this lettuce leaf document into a fierce protection of media consumer rights. Somehow I doubt it.

In the meantime we seem to be safe from 3am visits from the State Blog Police - so I think we can relax for now.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:15:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we seem to be safe from 3am visits from the State Blog Police

I'm sure Phony Tony's got you on some terrorist watch-list somewhere in the bowels of MI5.  You just don't know it yet.

This MEP is very condescending towards blogs, but that's par for the course in Serious journalism nowadays.  Joke Line will undoubtedly be knocking down our door any day now.

Doesn't seem to be a terribly worrying thing to me.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 10:19:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The report "on concentration and pluralism in the media in the European Union" - drafted by Estonian Socialist Marianne Mikko - also warns against the concentration of the media in the hands of a few companies because the media is vital to safeguarding democracy. "The media remains a powerful tool, which should not be treated solely in economic terms," she said. The report calls for social and legal guarantees to journalists and editors. It will be put to the vote in the full plenary in the future.

Ms Mikko told us "the blogosphere has so far been a haven of good intentions and relatively honest dealing. However, with blogs becoming commonplace, less principled people will want to use them".

Asked if she considered bloggers to be "a threat", she said "we do not see bloggers as a threat. They are in position, however, to considerably pollute cyberspace. We already have too much spam, misinformation and malicious intent in cyberspace". She added, "I think the public is still very trusting towards blogs, it is still seen as sincere. And it should remain sincere. For that we need a quality mark, a disclosure of who is really writing and why. "

She's either clueless or malicious.

However, I thought we might want to invite her to blog here on ET. Her own website is full of press releases but doesn't have a blog like many other politicians are starting to have.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:22:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great idea.  Seems to be the day for courting the clueless and/or malicious...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:35:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am constructing a personal letter to Finnish Socialist MEP Lasse Lehtinen at this moment. We have worked together in the past when he was Press attaché at the London Embassy.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:55:39 PM EST
As you know Swedish, this is some news about it from the Swedish State radio. http://www.sr.se/ekot/artikel.asp?artikel=2156631

It also includes an audio segment where Mikko is interviewed in English, with Swedish comments. http://www.sr.se/webbradio/?Type=db&Id=1224367

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:04:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I requested his permission to post his reply at ET. Let's see. He's a very intelligent guy, but also appeared as the Finnish Chris Tarrant in our version of the 'Do you want to be a millionaire?' TV quiz. So - some paradoxical behaviour ;-)

I amended the letter before sending to include the clarifications that migu and others have posted.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:03:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See here.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:11:35 PM EST
According to a mail sent from Swedish liberal-conservative MEP Charlotte Cederschiöld, the real reason behind this resolution is to protect traditional media from competition. This is highly interesting as Mikko has claimed there are completely different motives behind her scheme...
Mikko is a journalist by training and profession and her report stresses the need to have bloggers publicise their cnflicts of interest because they can "maliciously" "polute" the public space. She's obviously not seeing the beam in her own eye...

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:14:27 PM EST
Marianne Mikko's CV
Graduated in journalism at Tartu State University (1984). Editor (1984-1992 and 1993-1994); freelance journalist (Republic of South Africa, 1992-1993); special correspondent (1994-2004), including in Brussels (1994-2000); presenter (2000-2004), including for 'Välismääraja' programme on foreign policy; editor in chief of 'Diplomaatia', monthly specialising in foreign and security policy (2003-2004).

Substitute member, executive, European Federation of Journalists (2004).

Member of the board, 'Diplomaatia' monthly specialising in foreign and security policy (2004), Women in International Security - Estonia (WIISEST; 2003); member of the Estonian Journalists' Union (1985), Vice-Chair of the Estonian Journalists' Union (2004).

Author of the year (1995, 'Eesti Naine' periodical; 2002, 'Maaleht' weekly).

She clearly has no personal interest in "protecting journalists" from the two-pronged attack of moneyed interests and malicious bloggers.


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:27:34 PM EST
Mikko's report was on the agenda for the June 2 meeting of the Culture and Education committee of the EP. See also the minutes [PDF] of the meeting.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:38:21 PM EST
Starvid, your headline is worthy of the Eurosceptic press...

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:48:19 PM EST
But when it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...

Anyway, it's working - it's rocketing up the Rec list...

by Nomad on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:01:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steady on sir! You are getting personal ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:11:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I confess I sexed up the headline a bit. But I did say September 22, not nuclear annihilation within 15 minutes.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:12:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As an uninformed but concerned bystander, I would observe that there might be more reason to be concerned with the ease with which legislation can be passed than the difficulty of passing it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 09:37:46 PM EST
What an irony if, in a post FISA world, you might choose to host blogs in the US ... or the Bahamas or ...

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 12:30:23 AM EST
see here

The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.

Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.

 
by jam fuse on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 02:45:45 PM EST


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