First the Snoopers Charter sought to kill privacy, then the DE Bill plans to remove our freedom to choose which publications we want to expose ourselves to, but now the Conservatives are going to the source with the activation of section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
Section 40 was in response to the Leveson Inquiry, which recommended legal remedies should be more easily available to the public.
In principle, this is a good idea, however the Act is terribly worded.
Pirate Party Media Spokesperson David A Elston said:
"The addition of section 40 to the Act forces publications to have a state approved regulator, or else risk being left open to heavy legal costs. Even if the publication only stated true information, they can still be forced to pay the legal costs of anyone who chooses to sue them. The Act makes no distinction between anything true or false that has been made public. If you were to write a completely false claim, the Act shows it would be indistinguishable from a completely true claim and the financial penalty would be the same weight.
"Additionally the Act is not clear on who exactly it affects. The vagueness of the definition of multi-author editors can apply to anything such as a massive newspaper publication to something as small as a couple of bloggers working together on a website.
"While section 40 has already been passed into law, it is not yet active and a public consultation on activating section 40 is running which we would strongly encourage people to respond to.
"Perhaps the most worrying part of this section is legal fees can be passed on to the publisher even if the claimants are unsuccessful in their case. This leads to publications having to pay legal fees for potentially false claims made against them.
"We in the Pirate Party recognise the similarities to the way online content is bombarded by false copyright claims and takedown notices - and recognise the importance of maintaining Free Speech and a Free Press"
The Pirate Party responds to the consultation with the following:
-The state should not regulate the press and a state approved regulator should not be an option.
-A clear distinction must be made about exactly what the Act considers a multi-authored publication.
-Publishing false information should not carry the same potential punishment as publishing the truth.
-Unsuccessful claimaints should not be paid legal fees from the publisher.
About Pirate Party UK
The Pirate Party in the UK is a fledgling political party. It has fielded a few candidates in European and National elections, but like most small parties it is significantly constrained by the UK electoral system. Despite this, the Pirate Party now has one representative in local government and is looking to build support from the grass roots.