Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Lousy Legislation and Miller’s Malapropism

what the internet looks like (Small)Maria Miller MP’s speech on the rights and responsibilities of the internet age was published online earlier today.

Having a mooch through it, I spotted a bit of a howler.  Given that the context relates to child abuse online, the slip, if that’s the best term for it, was very unfortunate indeed.

In tackling child abuse online, the new National Crime Agency is bringing greater resources to bare [sic].

Really? Isn’t it, ‘to bear’?

And talking of howlers, I’m not sure I agree with her claim that English law, as it relates to the relatively recent phenomenon of social media, exists as a ‘strong and durable framework’. In fact, it’s anything but.

Quoting again from the speech:

The internet isn’t a ‘Second Life’, it isn’t something where different rules apply, where different behaviour is acceptable – it isn’t the wild west.

To put it simply the rules that apply offline are the same rules that apply online.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

The same already applies on social media

The legislation is already in place. And we have the guidelines by the Attorney General on contempt of court - and the Director of Public Prosecution’s on prosecutions involving social media communications – put together they present a strong and durable framework.

Outdated, ill-adapted and unclear would have been a more apt description of the law in my opinion.

Taking just one example from an inordinately long list, what about the bewildering duplication between section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 and the Malicious Communication Act 1988?

Does that sound like a strong and durable framework to you? Lousy legislating more like.

Let’s stop pretending that papering over the cracks with ‘guidance’ is an adequate substitute for proper public debate, consultation and legislative reform.

Because that’s what’s clearly needed.

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