The proposed Royal Charter establishing a new press watchdog system has now been published. This follows the Leveson Inquiry in to the culture, practice and ethics of the press. Concerns have been raised about the Royal Charter's effect on the Internet and bloggers, and potential attempts to regulate reporting on the Internet.
Pirate Party Leader Loz Kaye said:
"I hope the result of the Leveson enquiry will indeed be better access to justice and redress for ordinary people against powerful media players. I suspect though, once the dust has settled it will be business as usual for the press, police and politicians alike.
"What the Royal Charter is not, is an attempt to 'regulate the Internet' or to control all bloggers. That's simply not what is in the document. It's about who could be covered by a regulator that could, in turn, be recognised by the Recognition Panel created by the Charter. However, describing 'news-related' websites as publishers, has created real concern. In particular the fear is that the exemplary and aggravated damages being introduced elsewhere will penalise small players in a way that big media can avoid. Downing Street has conceded that they are not sure which sites will be covered by the Charter. This is simply not good enough.
"The Leaders of the three big parties only have themselves to blame for the confusion. This is what happens when you stitch up a deal behind closed doors at 3 in the morning. It's vital that we maintain the independence of the Internet. We will only get this with proper public debate, and involving bloggers and the tech world more widely in the process."