[IRP] appologies - input - multistakholderism & a telco meeting?
KovenRonald at aol.com
Tue Dec 15 20:02:05 EET 2009
Dear Max/All --
Thanks for your reply and for your openness to discussion.
Jurisdiction for alleged libels committed on the Internet is indeed a
major, vexed, unsettled issue. we see the problem clearly in connection with the
current consideration of British libel tourism law and practice. There does
need to be a global understanding on where one could sue to protect
I don't know the German siuation in detail. i do know from discussions with
German press council members at gatherings of European press council
representatives that there is a basic flaw in the German approach. It isn't
confined to Germany.
To be credible instances for non-governmetal settlement of disputes, press
or media complaint councils should be independent, voluntary and not part of
an official judicial system. If complainants are not satisfied with the
outcomes of such complaint procedures, they should be free to go to court.
In Germany, the press council has become the antechamber to official
courts. It has accepted the assignment of tasks to it by the legislature. That
makes it a quasi-official body that has accepted what amounts to the
privatization of governmental disputes settlement procedures.
That feature of the German system makes it a poor example for others. There
are worse cases. The Danish Press Council is an official, legislatively
mandated body. What saves the situation is that Denmark is a small, relatively
homogenuous society where everybody can know everybody and where there is a
very strong democratic tradition. But there are very senior Danish
jiournalists who have warned of the inherent dangers of the structure.
In Lithuania, the press council was not only created by the parliament.
Members of parliament are mandated by law to sit on it. As an example, it is
about as cringe-making as one could get.
The press councils in Portugal and Switzerland are also in effect part of
governmental adjudication systems.
But you should also consider that there are a number of very respectable
democracies where there are no national press councils and where the
journalists have actively rejected such structures. These include France, Spain, the
US. In Canada, there is no national body, altho there are some provincial
You will undoubtedly argue that the experiences of the press and other
traditional media have been made obsolete by the sheer volume of communication
made possible by the Internet. While it is certainly true that quantity
alters quality, I'm not prepared to give up the libertarian principles that have
stood us in good stead. In fact, I think the attitude of internauts should
be that there is no reason why the universal freedom of expression and press
freedom principles that have served us pre-Internet (embodied notably in
Art. 19 of the UDHR) can easily, with adjustments to difficulties like
jurisdiction, be adapted to the online world.
I guess that one should conclude that the variety of answers that have been
given to the public complaints problem reflects the variety of historical
and cultural expereinces. That seems to suggest that a search for a
universal, one-size-fits-all solution should be approached with extreme caution, if
at all. I think it is a field where less is more. That's where our
differences seem to be, Max. You seem to feel that more is more. And there, I will
concede that that's a not totally unrespectable reflection of the
expeeriences of recent European history. But others have different experiences and
traditions that make it very hard to accept the dominant European Continental
Best regards, Rony Koven
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