Despite passionate pleas by GOC Moores Pine to The League of Nations to intervene in The Thanet Blog War, the members, meeting in The New Google Building shown above, have been swayed by US rather than UK arguments about the weaponry that is acceptable in such conflicts and have strongly up-held the principle of free speech!
In keeping with Thanetstrife's neutrality in the present hostillities , a bulletin issued in Silicon Valley on 5th March 2008, rather than at The Victoria Plaza in London, is shown below, courtesy of one of our correspondents:
"In the autumn of 2005, I wrote a column welcoming the arrival of the citizen journalist as a much-needed boost to an increasingly moribund democratic process in the UK. I had been running a blog, Thanet Life, for two years before its popularity encouraged me to roll up my sleeves and run as a local councillor in last May's local elections.Perhaps thanks in part to my blogging, I won in my home town - a vindication, I thought, of this communications medium. But I've been proved wrong.
Last month, I reluctantly suspended my weblog. Why? Because I'd had enough of the constant flow of insults and defamation. Worst of all, my family was being abused in the street by complete strangers. "Councillor axes weblog" was the front page headline in the local paper.
Blogging has come a long way since I started in January 2002. Since then Google has bought Blogger.com and everyone who's anyone appears to have a weblog - Hillary Clinton, David Cameron, Bart Simpson and more.The citizen journalist now has a reach quite undreamed of until relatively recently and can influence local public opinion - and perhaps in some cases even the national mood.
But there is a much darker side to blogging, summarised by one of my own readers who wrote: "It is not healthy for people to have influence without consequence." He's probably right.Some of the attacks on me were launched in anonymous blog entries on Blogger.com.
Few people realise that with the rise of Google our own laws on defamation have flown out of the window. As a result, anyone who blogs anonymously in the UK can say anything they like about another person or business. We have complex libel laws in the UK, which govern the press, business and the individual. Yet it seems Google will defend absolutely the anonymity of a blogger and the content he or she produces.
I asked Google to remove the offending material. Google, which is also a UK limited company, answered: "Blogger.com and Blogspot.com are US sites regulated by US law. Blogger is a provider of content creation tools, not a mediator of that content.We allow our users to create blogs, but we don't make any claims about the content of these pages. We strongly believe in freedom of expression, even if a blog contains unappealing or distasteful content or presents unpopular viewpoints.Given these facts, and pursuant with section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, Blogger does not remove allegedly defamatory, libellous or slanderous material from Blogger.com or Blogspot.com."
I am told that even a court order from a British judge is not sufficient for Google to change its mind. So we now appear to have a situation in the UK where our own laws governing defamation, decency, libel and the simple test and protection of truth are governed by the more generous interpretation provided by the US legal system. So if I made defamatory, racist or homophobic remarks about an MP on silicon.com, I could be sued. But if I'm an anonymous blogger, it is acceptable because I'm apparently protected by US rather than UK law.
I reluctantly suspended my weblog because I'd had enough of the constant flow of insults and defamation.This is a deeply disturbing state of affairs. Like the posting of inappropriate, violent and offensive content on YouTube, this situation requires proper and urgent debate from our politicians.Margaret Briffa, an internet and ecommerce lawyer, tells me the position taken by Google not only makes no concession to UK or European defamation laws but is so one-sided in offering no help to the victim of unfair and vicious blogging that it seems to contravene the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Complete freedom of expression is like opening Pandora's box. It's the online equivalent of cheap supermarket lager and people become drunk on it. Are we then faced with an internet fait accompli in a global environment dominated by US law? Is our own legal framework governing decency and expression really so impotent and ineffectual? Welcome to the brave new world of influence without consequence.