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[FYI] UK: Threat to press on the Net


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Threat to press on the Net  


There is a deadening predictability to many of the responses to the 
Government’s White Paper on communications submitted this week. Few 
of the documents manage to raise their sights beyond narrow sectional 


In an almost casual way, they note, the Government appears to be 
trying to bring Internet content under statutory regulation in 
addition to the normal rules of criminal law. The sleight of hand 
involved is so skilful that you almost miss it.  

The Government’s argument appears to rest on the apparently innocuous 
notion that the Internet is an extension of broadcasting. Accept this 
premise and you are lost because it means accepting for the Internet 
the same structure of content regulation that has grown around 
broadcasting. But while the Internet is a new form of communication 
in its own right, it is much closer to the publishing than the 
broadcasting model. Spectrum is not in short supply and entry costs 
are low.  

The Government approach is strange, as it appears to undermine the 
principles of self-regulation accepted in publishing in the form of 
the Press Complaints Commission.  


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