European Parliament on Blogs

Strasbourg Before the Collapse

Fears that the EP was about to embark on a regulatory project that might effect blogging in Europe were allayed yesterday. Here is the EP press release in full:

Media pluralism must be safeguarded and all citizens should have access to free media, MEPs underline in a resolution adopted on Thursday. To prevent owners, shareholders or governments from interfering with editorial content, MEPs advocate creation of editorial charters. They also encourage an open discussion of the status of weblogs.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution by 307 votes in favour to 262 against urging the Commission and the Member states to safeguard media pluralism and ensure that all EU citizens can access free and diversified media. The resolution, drafted by the PES, the ALDE and the Greens/EFA group is a revised version of a report drafted by Marianne MIKKO (PES, ET) and the Committee on Culture and Education.
 
Ensure journalistic independence
 
In the resolution, MEPs stress the need to ensure journalistic and editorial independence and suggest editorial charters to prevent owners, shareholders or outside bodies such as governments from interfering with news content.  To shed light over the aims and background of the broadcasters and publishers, the resolution also encourages the disclosure of ownership of all media outlets.  MEPs also voice concern over the media’s ability to carry out the role of a watchdog of democracy, when private media enterprises are motivated by financial profit, and warn that this could lead to loss of diversity. The resolution considers that competition law and media law should be interlinked to avoid conflicts between media ownership concentration and political power
 
Status of bloggers should be discussed
 
Weblogs represent an important new contribution to freedom of expression and are often used by both media professionals and private persons. Therefore MEPs encourage an open discussion on all issues relating to the status of weblogs.  On this point the resolution is slightly different from the proposal from the Committee on Culture and Education, that suggested a ‘clarification’ of the status of weblogs and sites based on user-generated content, assimilating them for legal purposes with any other form of public expression.
 
During the presentation of the report Monday evening, Mrs Mikko responded to the concerns of many bloggers: “My entrance into cyberspace has created rapid reaction among a lot of bloggers. I shall make it clear now that nobody is interested in regulating the internet,” she said.
 
MEPs also underline the importance of the protection of copyrights online, insisting that third parties have to mention the source when taking over declarations, call for greater transparency with respect to personal data kept on users by search engines, email providers and social networking sites.

The resolution has many ramifications and one can detect a side barrage to people like Signor Berlusconi.

La Stampa’s summary of the events also makes an interesting read:

Il Parlamento europeo ha respinto oggi la proposta di regolamentazione legale dei blog, che aveva suscitato molte critiche da parte degli internauti europei preoccupati dalla possibile valanga di azioni legali nel caso in cui ai blog fosse accordato uno status giuridico.

Il Parlamento ha emendato il rapporto della socialista estone Marianne Mikko che chiedeva di “chiarire lo status dei blog e dei siti con contenuti generati dall’utente, assimilandoli, a fini legali, a ogni altra forma di espressione pubblica”. Il rapporto, approvato dagli eurodeputati, riconosce che gli spazi dei blogger sono “un contributo importante alla libertà di espressione, sempre più utilizzato tanto da professionisti dei media che da semplici navigatori”.

Al posto della definizione dello status legale, nel rapporto approvato oggi (non vincolante per gli Stati membri), si legge che il Parlamento “incoraggia un dibattito su tutte le questioni legate allo status dei blog”.

Rammarico della eurodeputata relatrice: “Mi dispiace – ha commentato la Mikko – nessuno voleva regolamentare Internet, solo che le parole sono un’arma da maneggiare con prudenza e a volte é giusto sapere chi c’é dietro”.

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