Censorship Vs. Protection: A Code of Conduct for Bloggers?

2 minute read
Marisa Peacock avatar
Web users and bloggers went tête à tête in recent survey of Internet users conducted by the legal firm, DLA Piper. The survey focused on the possibility of instituting a voluntary code of conduct for bloggers and online commentators. There was a noticeable divide: nearly half of all internet users would support such a code whereas only 34% of bloggers did. Web users' inclination for the code of conduct is aimed at holding bloggers to the same standard set by laws on defamation, intellectual property and incitement. Results Indicate Lack of UnderstandingThe survey revealed that more than three quarters of the respondents who admitted to having posted comments on blogs and news sites knew nothing about libel law. In addition, only one in three of the web users surveyed said they had actually read the legal liabilities in the terms and conditions of the sites they use.A mere 14% had had material removed from a site in the past for breaching those terms.DLA Piper says that the survey results indicate "the dangers created not only by self-publishing but also by more innocuous user content, such as video, photos and comments posted to media-sharing sites". Perhaps it better indicates the growing overlap between censorship and protection. User Generate Content Immune?Even more intriguing is what Duncan Calow, a DLA Piper digital media law specialist speculated, as he noted that among web users there was "a dangerous perception that user-generated content is immune to the law" citing the questionable "combination of confusion and complacency about the relationship between the law and UGC".Who's the Boss?Though a code of conduct might give the illusion of keeping bloggers and other purveyors of online content "in line" there is no indication to how or by whom they'd be regulated, which may be the most important piece of the puzzle. Bloggers might be best regulated by Web users who, like consumers and television viewers before them, can best show their disdain for those they feel are not meeting their standards of good taste by being selective and reserving their clicks for the sites they deem worthy of their unique visit.