21.9.07

British blogging in trouble.

It seems as though British blogging (at least of the political persuasion is mobilising to fend of the attack from an Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov. With multiple websites being taken down by the web hosts based not on truth, or proved libel but on simply the allegations of such. As a result within certain circles this story has begun to circulate and gain momentum and I would recommend having a look at both Mr Eugenide's post and the one on the Devil's Kitchen.

This story is seemingly scaring political bloggers silly. It shows how fragile this form of medium is to attack from anyone with both the money and bloodymindedness to believe they have the right to stifle free speech in another country.


In the US you have a First Amendment right to free speech. This has the effect, among other things, of making it rather harder to bully the little guy into silence. In Britain we have no such protection. As most of us use US-based blog platforms such as Google-owned Blogger, it’s unlikely that a thug like Usmanov would succeed in shutting us down if he didn’t like what we were writing (he could still sue us for libel, of course, but that’s a slightly different matter). But if a foreign businessman can have a whole network of blogs taken down in their entirety with just the threat of legal action, we're all in trouble. Next time, who's to say it won't be a politician? And then where does that leave us?
Taken from Mr Eugenides's post on Jewcy.com here.
One thing I am going to add here is not that we need any form of constitution within this country - such a written codification of rights is just as easily (or indeed more) circumvented by the powerful and the wealthy - but we need some sort of correcting institutional strength that can react to this form of new (at least the format is new) attack.

That is not to say that as the DK points out in the above article that the libel system is not flawed, but that a written constitution of any form is not the correct way in which rights should be defended in this country. It never has been, and (i hope) it never will.

1 comment:

Matt Wardman said...

>This story is seemingly scaring political bloggers silly.

Probably "made furious" rather than scared silly. As Mr E says - if the criticism were tested in court there would not be such an issue.

More like "up with this we will not put", combined with an attack on some of the senior bloggers and an opportunity to thoroughly raise a question that needs raising.

>It shows how fragile this form of medium is to attack from anyone with both the money and bloodymindedness to believe they have the right to stifle free speech in another country.

I would agree, with the qualification that Fasthosts (who closed the server down) have been craven, and that the main problem is with our laws.

Other webhosts would have done better imho.