back to article EU-wide mega-Leveson 'needed' to silence Press, bloggers

A group reporting to the European Commission has recommended the regulation of the media and bloggers. It also called for the creation of several new regulatory apparatus for fining, monitoring and chivvying the Press. The tiny team - two law experts and "new media" attention-seeker Ben Hammersley - are billed as the "High- …

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  1. alpine

    Sleep walking into supranational totalitarianism.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Sleep walking"? Euphorically hurtling more like.

      I for one am glad they're there to "protect" us. Just one question... who's protecting us from our protectors?

    2. David Neil
      Mushroom

      GET TAE F#CK YOU BUNCH OF AUTHORITARIAN TWATS

      That is all

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Stop

    I'm not one to post general abuse...

    But that report seems at first glance to be complete and utter bollocks...

    Don't tell me what I can't say.

    Don't tell me what I must say.

    Let me say what I want, provided I can prove it.

    1. The BigYin

      Re: I'm not one to post general abuse...

      You don't need to prove anything if stating an opinion. So long as you don't stray into hate-speech or incitement of some.

      "Les Miserables was a bad movie"

      HALT CITIZEN! TO HOW MANY DECIMAL PLACES WAS LES MISERABLES A BAD MOVIE?

      "Err...what?"

      Not going to happen.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: I'm not one to post general abuse...

        Sorry to be a pedant but opinions based on false facts have always been defamatory in the UK. And who defines hate-speech? What if slagging off a politician or a judge becomes a "hate crime"? :(

        C.

        1. The BigYin

          Re: I'm not one to post general abuse...

          Well what I meant (as per my example) was a simple opinion. I thought Les Mes was poor. I don't really have to justify it beyond "I didn't like it". It's not defamatory at all, nor should I be prevented from stating it.

          And yes, I am aware that the criteria for "hate speech" could be stretched to cover just about anything. But it's not like we are going to have to back-up every single little thing we say with verifiable facts; is it? And even facts can be open to interpretation.

          For the avoidance of doubt: I don't like the proposal and I think the UK already has more than enough laws to cover defamation, libel etc. And the international tourism we are seeing in our courts is testament to that.

        2. Ted Treen
          Big Brother

          Re: I'm not one to post general abuse...

          "What if slagging off a politician or a judge becomes a "hate crime"? :("

          Like the student who got dragged in for telling a plod that his horse was gay? They already do it whenever they like, Dio...

        3. Ian Johnston Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: I'm not one to post general abuse...

          "Opinions based on false facts" are most certainly not always defamatory.

        4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: I'm not one to post general abuse...

          Well indeed, hence the 'prove it' bit...

          I can say 'Les Mis is a terrible movie' and it is understood to be my opinion. But the newspapers can't say I'm a child molester unless and until I am found guilty of it.

          1. Heathroi

            Re: I'm not one to post general abuse...

            well, that was the point of the law, it protected cads generally up to no good, making their detractors prove they were up to no good and since that could BE problematic, it would put the cads in the clear. In your case, people would say "Neil? pedo? that doesn't sound right' ( i'm assuming ;-) but "Tony Blair? (or 'Dave' Cameron) murderous sleazeball? yeah that sounds right' allowing people to believe anything about them and making sure they disappear much quicker from public office.

      2. The Axe
        Mushroom

        Les Mis

        If Les Mis was a movie or play that promoted multiculturalism and tolerance and plurality then yes, saying it was a bad movie could get you locked up if read the report accurately and take it as written.

  3. Return To Sender
    Meh

    Unusually blatant...

    for the EU. Normally you have to really dig in to the fine print to work out what the scam is. This time they're outright asking to create a money trough to get some snouts into.

    I'm never quite sure where I stand on the EU, it's got good bits and bad bits like everything else. Stuff like this doesn't, in my opinion anyway, help to enhance its reputation.

    1. Spoonsinger

      Re: Unusually blatant...

      Up'd you. So now waiting for the knock on the door.

      ps

      It was sold as a 'common market' here, but has morphed into something somewhat weirder. Shall be interesting to see how things turn out - in the whole 'may you live in interesting times' type way. Sit back and watch is my philosophy - which probably makes me part of the problem.

  4. Andrew Baines Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    So much for the referendum

    By the time we're allowed to vote to leave, you won't be able to report the campaign.

    Does posting on here make me a journalist?

    1. Toltec

      Re: So much for the referendum

      " Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.

      But wait, who exactly is a journalist? The group doesn't even know - and doesn't want to say. Or as it puts it:

      Within the shifting sands of the current media environment, the HLG regrets to refrain from offering any firm and consensual definition of either journalism or journalists."

      Looks clear to me, a journalist is someone with a journalistic status that can be removed.

      If you do not think of your self as a journalist then removing this status is a little like excommunicating an atheist.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scary stuff

    I'm glad I'm Australian. That should give me a slight delay before the cataclysm arrives. You'll find me On the Beach.

    1. The Axe

      Re: Scary stuff - Oz

      Don't be so sure. Australia is pretty much the nanny state of all countries. You think yourself freer than Brits and Europeans. But you're not. You'd be surprised how many petty laws and regulations you have. And the majority of the population don't even stand up to it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scary stuff

      Could you throw an extra shrimp on the barbie? I'll be on the next plane :D

  6. The FunkeyGibbon

    Thoughtcrime

    "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SCART

    Obviously this will all culminate in SCART sockets being fitted to all EU citizens so that they can be networked and dominated.

    And I don't even mean RGB SCART, I mean the proper French SCART with French protocols and voltages etc.

    Mind you, the next time someone uses this as an example of why David Cameron is talking about leaving the EU to get the UK its freedom back, remind them that it was the EU who forced the UK to stop arresting innocent Brits taking photos in public and harvesting people's DNA...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SCART

      Given the dna gathering and locking up photographers was inspired by EU proposals I hardly think it's fair to say that the EU was the protagonist in that. They were, at best, making use of the situation for their own ends.

      You see, it works like this. A thinktank funded by the EU proposes some new set of regulations, which are then kicked up to a European Council for debate. The idea is floated at the European level as a non-legislative debate, after which the national parliaments take the hint and start working on their own implementations. DNA gathering and internet traffic monitoring are two good examples. Parliaments implement these laws haphazardly across the EU, creating a conflicting set of new rules and regulations that vary from country to country.

      In the meantime the Council has been quietly working on its own implementation of the same idea, which slowly works its way through varius stages of committee while the member states publically implement their own versions of the same thing. The EU then steps up, declares loudly that these laws are unjust, poorly implemented or just plain bad and that it wants all that faff to stop immediately - everyone cheers and the EU lays claim to the role of protector of the common man. Six months later it announces that it's bringing a new "harmonising" directive forward, which takes all the very worst elements of the national laws and puts them together in a single place.

      The directive becomes law. Acts implementing it amend the previous laws to comply with the new harmonised regulation. Regulatory capture brings another aspect of our lives under the aegis of the EU. We lose even the trifling ability we had to prevent such laws coming into being in yet another area, and our politicians, fat on the public purse and with little to do as they no longer run the country in any meaningful sense, begin crafting new and ever more detailed ways of prying into the minutia of the citizen's life and soon find that Personal Occupation Y is the new Problem that Must Be Dealt With.

      A thinktank funded by the EU proposes that some new set of regulations be crafted to deal with this.

      The cycle begins anew.

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Billy 8

      Re: EUSSR

      Well, not quite on schedule, surely?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1984

      I agree with your sentiment, but it can hardly be called "on schedule", can it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 1984

        It depends upon who defines the schedule:

        A marketing 1984 is 1979.

        An engineering 1984 is 2083.

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: EUSSR

      "1984 dystopia on schedule"

      2013>1984 its hardly on schedule now is it?

    4. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: EUSSR

      calendar misreported re 1984

      Next year will be 1984

      Those nonpersons un-dubblethinkfully to above will be sent to room 101

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  9. NorthernCoder
    Stop

    Constitutions..?

    It sounds to me that some those proposals ("Media councils should have real enforcement powers...") would be in violation of the constitutions of some member countries, at least the Swedish "Tryckfrihetsförordningen" (transl. Freedom of the Press Act).

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Constitutions..?

      That's all right, they can have a referendum to decide whether they want it or not. And if they get the 'wrong' answer, they can hold another.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Constitutions..?

      If the EU makes a directive that will trump national law. That's how it works.

  10. Busby
    Big Brother

    What could possibly go wrong

    A European organisation to oversee limiting free speech across the continent what could possibly go wrong with that? Perhaps they could be called the Ministry of Truth.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What could possibly go wrong

        Of course it's much better that we let the press manipulate our opinions and let anyone with a computer post whatever nastiness they like!

        Of course there are dangers with limiting the press but there are also dangers with not.

        Personally I'd like to err on the side of freedom of expression but have a clear indication of how the rules work.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Scary as fuck

    That's the short version - it would take hours to itemise all that is wrong with this stuff.

  12. Aqua Marina Silver badge

    Regulate the media...

    ... or fine them a years turnover when the media is caught lying.

    As it is now, national rags have no incentive not to hound someone to suicide, or simply decide someone is guilty of a crime, and proceed to ruin that persons life for them.

    1. Phil 54

      Re: Regulate the media...

      So The Guardian would be fined -£54,750,000?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fine

        He said turnover, not profit.

  13. Z-Eden
    Big Brother

    Well, good news for all those retired Pravda reporters - there may be a new job for you all soon...

  14. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    State funding for media ... including ... political ... [which] are not commercially viable

    What could possibly go wrong with that then? (hint)

  15. Shrike
    Thumb Down

    heh

    "The democratic legitimacy of the European Union is..."

    wait one, there's any sort of legitimacy in a democratic body that has very limited actual influence ?

    the power rests almost entirely with the commission, who has members appointed by member states. no member of parliament can actually propose a bill, only the commission can, and that's before touching upon the way the seats are assigned both in the commission and in parliament.

    so yea, come back when you got some actual legitimacy to protect eh?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: heh

      Spot on. The European Parliament is actually merely the world's all-time most expensive implementation of a rubber stamp with "Approved" on the flat end.

  16. IHateWearingATie
    WTF?

    Words fail me.

    One just hopes that Steely Neeily chucks the report in the bin.

    Unfortunately, this kind of thing can acquire a life of its own within the EU if one or more commissioners picks it up and pushes it.

    Full Disclosure - in my short time as a civil servant I had cause to say 'No' to the EU on a particular issue where powers were to be transferred (nothing to do with IT). It felt very good.

    1. Bumpy Cat

      Re: Words fail me.

      Steely Neelie said the report is "exactly what I was looking for". She's not on our side on this one, alas.

  17. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Perfect video clip

    You couldn't have made a better choice!

  18. Da Weezil
    Black Helicopters

    "High-Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism" - I really did read that as "Puritanism" at first glance

    Life in Europe really is a joyless thing. While I agree the press has demonstrated its seedier side in recent years, do the Eurocrats really believe that democracy is served by this sort of drivel?

    There are bigger fish to fry....

  19. The BigYin

    A united Europe is a good idea

    The EU, however, is a cesspit of corruption and dubious accounting which lacks transparency, due process or any kind of public oversight at all.

    1. The Axe
      FAIL

      Re: A united Europe is a good idea

      You might think that to have a united Europe we need a EU. We don't. Many countries can work together for the same goals but without needing to be so closely tied together. Look at NATO for military cooperation. NAFTA for trade cooperation. The existence of the EU does not make conflict less likely - in fact it makes it more likely. Just look at how Greece is coping with being forced to toe the EU line.

    2. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: A united Europe is a good idea

      If Europe is united enough to avoid going to war with each other and to cooperate on some big projects that would be too expensive or otherwise impractical to complete in isolation, that's enough unity.

  20. Bluenose
    FAIL

    Hungary votes to support proposal

    Or I imagine they will since they have recently been rebuked by the EU for doing something similar around freedom of the press.

    The upside of this is that it is simply a gang of no-marks providing a report and Steely Neelie is not normally someone who accepts such crap when presented to her if she thinks it has the potential to damage democracy. That said of course some of these things are already in place; for example the UK has a body that can fine newspapers or demand they print an apology.

    Overall though this document is written by people who have no understanding of the media (its either to make money or promulgate the political views of the owner), ignore the impact such rules would have on democracy and forgot to review it with the idea of how will this be seen by the European Public. The latter point is quite important because if they had thought about this they would have realised that it was a fail from day one.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Hungary votes to support proposal

      "the UK has a body that can fine newspapers"

      Just as a helpful point of order, the PCC doesn't (and can't anyway) fine newspapers because it reckons media barons would treat penalties for inaccuracies as business expenses; it would ruin smaller newspapers; the libel courts are there for making good substantial damage.

      C.

      1. airbrush

        Re: Hungary votes to support proposal

        Isn't that a body that can fine newspapers? Not sure our judiciary is exactly a neutral body, but then what organisation is?

  21. theblackhand
    Trollface

    Hopefully...

    Will we be able to pay lots of tax to support this wonderful quango-type organisation to purify our thoughts and speech as well as what we write?

    I think this is double plus good and only hope that it helps us win the war against global terrorism.

  22. ShelLuser

    Not surprising...

    I mean; its the same EU which tried to make it illegal for any European household to own an encryption method (key) without the government having a copy to that.

    The real problem otoh. is the amount of attention this might receive. Many countries were so interested with the issue of encryption that the attendance record for that particular vote was extremely low. Even though the stakes were quite high where public freedom was concerned; only a few smaller members (iirc Finland) eventually blocked the whole thing alltogether.

    So if the "zmartz" politicians are unable to actually read this for what it is then I wouldn't be surprised at all if this would somehow manage to gain some foothold. And the worst part is that I wouldn't even be surprised if the goal isn't even to control the media but merely a sic attempt at getting attention for something "new". Attention but most of all funding to realize or investigate a new project.

    I mean; "EU ambassadors" who spend their spare time in 20k/month apartments? (that's in Euro's in case anyone is wondering). While they claim there's a financial crisis the EU sure has a very strange way of showing it I think.

    My only hope is that there are enough serious politicians left who are able to see this for what it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not surprising...

      "My only hope is that there are enough serious politicians left who are able to see this for what it is."

      Don't hold your breath waiting for serious (or responsible) politicians to arrive

  23. The Axe
    Flame

    Lets get out of the EU NOW!!

    And for all those thinking that the EU is good, little things like this are the hidden dangers that make the EU dangerous. The EU is definitely heading towards a totalitarian authoritarian state where no dissent is tolerated.

  24. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Big Brother

    There should be a provision of state funding for media which are essential for pluralism

    Thats the line you should be scared of

    Thats says "In country A, a member of the EU, all the political parties,the press and population are against further membership of the EU, therefore we can fund a pro-EU media campaign in country A in the name of pluralism"

    Perhaps some nice nazi type parties should apply for funding under this idea... "hey.. its pluralism "

  25. JohnG Silver badge

    Linguistic, cultural and political pluralism?

    "There should be a provision of state funding for media which are essential for pluralism (including geographical, linguistic, cultural and political pluralism), but are not commercially viable. The state should intervene whenever there is a market failure leading to the under-provision of pluralism, which should be considered as a key public good."

    As the panel is chaired by the former president of Latvia, I guess they will start by encouraging participation of Russian speakers and other Slavs in Latvia and other Baltic states, as opposed to the racist discrimination currently allowed by the Latvian Nationality Act.

  26. John G Imrie Silver badge

    Sky v's BBC

    There should be a provision of state funding for media which are essential for pluralism (including geographical, linguistic, cultural and political pluralism), but are not commercially viable. The state should intervene whenever there is a market failure leading to the under-provision of pluralism, which should be considered as a key public good.

    You could read the above to say that the government can fund the BBC and Sky can go take a running jump.

  27. Tom 13

    In a perfect world if one is slandered or libeled

    there ought to be a recourse through the courts by which one can reclaim their honor. Too many so called journalists, bloggers, and especially commenters are all to quick to commit precisely these offenses.

    The problem of course is that it isn't a perfect world and any tool by which an honest citizen can try to reclaim his honor is also available for abuse from those with none. So on balance the system we have seems preferential to the proposed improvements.

  28. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Good news for the Guardian?

    I think you mis-spelled "BBC". That's by far and away the most obvious model for a broadcaster or news organisation that enjoys public subsidy on the grounds that it provides pluralism and public service.

    The failure to even try to define journalist or journalism means we can ignore the parts about enforcement and regulation. (Presumably they were asked to consider such things as part of their remit. It seems rather odd to even bring up the subject, otherwise.)

    So all this report has really done is give the BBC a vote of approval and suggested that we could use a few more organisations like that. Hardly controversial, unless you're a Rupert.

  29. Edward Clarke
    Mushroom

    clarke@cilia.org

    It looks like they are recommending a censorship board to punish people who disagree with governmental positions and a propaganda board to publicize things that they like. I believe that the Germans may have complete records in their archives from the old East German government on how to set these up. If not, perhaps they can get some pointers from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    Oh, yeah - the proper term is "attention-whore" not "attention-seeker".

  30. TeeCee Gold badge
    Flame

    EU regulation.

    I take it this would be similar to previous EU run ins with the free press, which seem to revolve around articles penned on shady practices at the EU resulting in the journo having his door kicked in by Eurojust and all his source material seized.

    Stalin would be proud of them.

    It puzzles me that there are still those who continue to deny that the EU is intent on becoming a totalitarian oligarchy when they're being so ruddy blatant about it.

  31. oldredlion
    WTF?

    This article is crap

    What exactly is wrong with this?

    All EU countries should have independent media councils. Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.

    I hope El Reg aint going the way of the Sun...

  32. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Wow!

    From the EU report:

    "Recommendation: In order to build up cadres of professional journalists competent to operate in

    a rapidly changing media landscape, or to offer them the possibility to do investigative

    journalism, journalistic fellowships should be offered to both entry-level and and mid-career

    candidates who could take leave from their media organisations. Universities and research

    centres should set up positions for journalists in residence under such fellowships ***to be funded

    by the EU***. The selection of the journalists would be done by the academic and scientific

    institutions themselves. The fellowships would be particularly valuable for investigative

    journalism, or for training journalists to mediate between complex subjects such as science,

    technology, finance or medicine and the wider public.

    So, the EU want to send journalists to an EU funded "journalism school". With the candidates selected by the (left wing communist) universities themselves.

    They just come right out and say it now, don't they?

    "Ah! Welcome, comrade to your first day of thought-re-alignment and EU indoctrination."

    "Eh? I thought this was a journalism course?"

    "Yes, it is. Come in. Sit down. Make yourself comfortable. Mwhua ha ha ha ha ha ha ha"

  33. Steve 76

    Freedom

    Three words for Europe: Bill of Rights

    You can copy ours, USA, it's not copyrighted

    ". . .no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    1. NorthernCoder
      Go

      Re: Freedom

      Thanks, but we (Sweden) have had that since 1766.

      ;-)

  34. Dr.S

    Reading this, I feel like we are living in Ayn Rand's nightmare. Maybe we are.

  35. Marksman
    Devil

    Economically Viable?

    It is just great that they suggest adding money to the media manipulation. So taxpayers bailout news sources that cannot get people to read their garbage? Probably only those media outlets that agree with the "party." I should start a newspaper that prints one copy, says what the state wants it to say and pays me a salary of 1 million euros a year. Since I am losing money, the citizens should bail me out.

  36. Nunyabiznes

    With apologies

    This just proves we ARE evolved from the Golfrinchians.

  37. roselan
    Big Brother

    Welcome to Soviet Europe!

    1. NorthernCoder
      Coat

      Soviet Europe welcome YOU!!

  38. airbrush
    Big Brother

    Lolz

    I love these stories about stuff that the EU might do, or voted against it brings out the paranoid in people. Go back to bed, luckily one or two countries arent in the pocket of multinational companies or the USA so democracy won. Wish we were one of those countries .. Zzzzz.

  39. calumg

    If it ain't broken don't fix it

    Oh so there should be a law against gossip now? Whatever marginal benefits these laws bring, the effect on a free society is chilling.

    Also, this isn't restraining "journalists", it's restraining "citizens".

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