The man in charge of the inquiry into press standards wants to stop Internet trolls
Lord Justice Leveson, who is in charge of the ongoing inquiry into the culture and ethics of the British press, has called for stricter legislation in order to curb “mob rule” online.
He warned that damage done to reputation on social networks and blogs is permanent, and offers little chance for rehabilitation.
The uncivilised Internet
Speaking at the ‘Privacy in the 21st Century’ symposium in Sydney, Australia, Lord Leveson said new laws were needed to maintain privacy, while at the same time respecting the freedom of speech.
He said that the Internet provided “a global megaphone for gossip” and warned against “trials by Twitter”, no doubt referring to recent events such as the false accusations of child abuse levelled at Lord McAlpine, and the widespread publication of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge.
“The established media broadly conform to the law and, when they do not, they are potentially liable under the law,” said Leveson, as reported by the Telegraph. “In so far as the Internet is concerned, there has been, and for many, there remains a perception that actions do not have legal consequences.
“To name and shame people by broadcasting their behaviour (online), there is a danger of real harm being done, and in some cases harm which is both permanent and disproportionate.
“It will take time to civilise the Internet,” he added.
Last week, Lord Leveson published a 2,000-page report on the enquiry, in which he recommended an independent self-regulatory watchdog for the press, backed by legislation. However some newspaper journalists, including the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, are trying to shift the blame for the shortcomings of the press on online publications.
The report itself doesn’t deal with Internet regulation, a fact that was criticised by some analysts.
Can you look after your personal data online? Take our quiz!