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Media Freedom and Pluralism

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Beata Klimkiewicz

Section 2: Content and service-related regulation

Chapter 8. Challenges of regulation of the Blogosphere1

Andrej ŠKolKay

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  • 1 This paper greatly benefited from comments by Dr. Beata Klimkiewicz from the University of Krakow, (...)

1The internet in general, and the blogosphere in particular as a special branch of internet-mediated public communication, have brought new regulatory challenges to public communication and challenges to our understanding of freedom of expression. In the case of blogs, one of the most difficult decisions is how much interaction, if any, should be allowed for users. On the one hand, the ability to leave comments, rate articles or photos, and communicate with authors or other visitors encourages readers to return to the site and provides them with a sense of community. On the other hand, uncontrolled content carries a set of dangers and concerns, including copyright and libel issues.

2From a regulatory point of view, it seems more and more clear that there is not and should not be a total freedom for anonymous communication, especially for anonymous comments. There are increasingly serious problems with violence promoted by words, i.e. promotion of extreme ethnic, pathological, and religious passions, as well as problems with personal honor and dignity. Many observers have also noted the increasingly low quality of public discourse on the internet and in some cases, in the blogosphere. A serious discussion is needed about possible methods of regulation, to discuss the introduction of rules aiming at the protection of the physical, mental, and moral development of minors as well as human dignity in all internet media services.

3In this paper, I will first describe current regulatory tendencies concerning the blogosphere. Second, I will briefly discuss three possible types of regulation. Third, I will discuss the most recent European regulatory developments concerning online services, indirectly affecting the blogosphere. Fourth, I will briefly compare the U.S. and German approaches to regulation of the blogosphere. Fifth, I will focus on political and civic issues of blogosphere regulation. In the final part, I will discuss whether legislation is preferable vis-à-vis the blogosphere, or whether alternatives such as co-regulation or self-regulation should be considered.

8.1. Current issues of the blogosphere

4Blogs are necessary in a number of ways for enhancing civil contribution and public input on the internet. Blogging is a specific phenomenon of public communication that by and large fosters democratic participation but also poses challenges to governments (Školkay, 2006). The blogosphere creates new conditions for crime and violence (not only by words) to thrive on the Web and hate speech to spread due to the new intensive communication online. The blogosphere brings with it “traditional” major issues in communications: dangers of promotion of crime and violence (e.g. pedophilia), hate speech (e.g. racist content and comments), hidden advertising and flogs (the use of “personal blogs” for unfair commercial and political purposes), quality of a discussion (the abundance of emotionally laden discourse), copyright rights, and political marketing through blogs, including the use of fake politicians’ blogs.

  • 2 Available at http://pocitace.sme.sk/clanok.asp?cl=3459926; retrieved august 12, 2007.

5An interesting example illustrates the thin line between the public and the private. A court in Finland fined a 15-year-old boy almost €1,000 for slandering his teacher. The boy uploaded to YouTube a video of his teacher. Entitled “Karaoke at Psychiatry,” the video was shot at one of the school’s celebrations.2 Although this video was not used as a blog, the consequences were similar to a personal slander in a written form.

6There are arguably three major reasons why the blogosphere has taken such a decadent turn, especially regarding primitive anonymous personal or public attacks or comments. First, anonymity is protected. Many bloggers and almost all participants in follow-up discussions protect their true identity. Second, it is a factor of “no sense of place.” Put simply, one does not behave the same way when s/he is confronted face-to-face by a neighbor. Third, there is no—or little—time left for serious thinking. Reactions/comments can be fast due to technological conditions and anonymity that is seemingly (almost) without responsibility. However, producing high-quality ideas, including high-quality evaluation of others’ ideas, takes time.

7From a civic viewpoint, therefore, the blogosphere seems to pro-vide a lethal combination of protected anonymity and distance that encourages all types of bizarre individuals to express their deepest— sometimes pathological—emotions, including death threats. This kind of “tabloid conversation” or “trash conversation” is becoming a widespread issue. In addition to “hard” issues of censorship and pornography on the internet, there also are “softer” problems of decency, libel, and civility in the blogosphere.

8These areas of concern can be illustrated by the negative experiences of a former blogger3 in Slovakia. Čuláková’s observations stem from a firsthand and relatively long-term use of the blogosphere; they are generally applicable. First, in her opinion, there are problems with giving preference to some contributions (including the “karma” system, based on feelings of readers, an evaluation system based on readership frequency, and a selection of articles based on editorial decision) and, later, giving automatic preference to some bloggers (known as the VIP system). The logic of this system leads to scandalous writing, especially of headlines, argues Čuláková. The karma system is perhaps closest to the quality goal, because it negates frequency as well as scandalous headlines and underlines interesting content on blogs.4

9Furthermore, this system can sometimes be abused for a promotion of vested interests, including business interests. Pastier (2007)5 describes a case from 2005. A female blogger, Claire, wrote regularly about her “authentic” experiences with cosmetic products, and especially with a new moisture cream by Vichy/L’oreal. In fact, Claire was an employee of Pr agency Jean-Paul. After this scandal was revealed, the company established a new blog in which anyone could write about its products, positively, neutrally, or critically.

10Another revealed case of a fake blog (or “flog”) comes from the United States. The blog “Walmarting across America” was allegedly established by two travelers going across the United States. The travelers often stopped in Walmart stores. As it later turned out, they were paid for their writings—by Walmart. A PR company, Zipatoni, which established a flog for the Sony company, made a fatal mistake. The URL address was registered by the PR agency itself, and some of the published pictures showed Zipatoni’s marketing consultant. Officially, this was supposed to be a blog by two teenagers.

11There may also be more subtle ways of influencing bloggers’ writings. In 2006, Microsoft, working through its PR agency, Edelman, invited bloggers out to Seattle to meet Bill Gates, with all expenses paid. Towards the end of 2006, they sent selected bloggers expensive laptops, with Vista preinstalled, as a gift. It is an open question whether, even if no quid pro quo was formally required, the gift creates a social obligation of reciprocity. A proliferation of fake and Pr blogs resulted in the establishment of in-house or self-regulatory ethical codes for blogging by many corporations.

12Turning back to the second point made by Čuláková, a blogger does not always want his or her writings to appear in print in a newspaper. However, this happens and can cause conflicts. In Čuláková’s case it caused problems with her colleagues—local politicians.6 nevertheless, it is questionable whether, in the future, one should worry more about the printed version of his or her writings than about the online version. It seems logical that electronic publications will soon reach parity with printed versions, at least in terms of social or political impact.

13Thirdly, follow-up discussions of articles might prove inefficient and highly emotionally laden. Interestingly, Čuláková compared the Czech and Slovak blogospheres and suggested that discussions in the Czech blogosphere were much less emotional. Some other authors indicated that discussion fora in Slovakia are often overloaded with personal offenses and worthless messages.7 In Slovakia, some online portals are unable to delete sufficiently quickly racist or religious remarks by anonymous commentators. Significantly, the articles that raise socially and politically important issues of the day usually do not cause such lengthy discussions.8

14Fourthly, Čuláková criticized the fact that a pedophile was given a voice in the daily sme blogosphere—for a while at least—but the Jehovah’s Witnesses not. In a protest, an initiative against a pedophile blogger emerged in early 2006. The main argument against the pedophile blogger’s unrestricted freedom of speech was that, if such extremist opinions were allowed to be published, they needed to be clearly marked as abnormal and commented on by a specialist. Therefore, the authors of the petition asked the administrator either to delete articles romantizicing pedophily or to add a specialist’s commentary to them. After such public pressure, the pedophile blogger stopped posting. This example shows that ethical as well as legal considerations must be carefully and swiftly taken into consideration when dealing with the blogosphere.

15In short, the media create risks for the recipients, while the internet and new communications augment them for technological, psychological, and legal reasons. The new situation in regulation leads to shifts in the regulatory paradigm, requiring reconsideration of the paradigm and the elaboration of new approaches. The above discussion has raised some important general issues. Is there a threat coming from the danger of violent words? How socially serious an issue is the low quality of public discourse?

16Research suggests that violence in words is not, potentially, without consequences. There is now strong evidence that suggests that “mirror neurons” activate in the same way when we are watching someone else do something as they do when we are doing it ourself. We learn by imitating (mirroring) others. The problem is that these neurons imitate others without our conscious intention. It is hard to resist copying the behavior of others we are around. Neurologist Richard Restak even argues that negative emotions exert a more powerful effect in social situations than positive ones, thanks to the phenomena of emotional contagion.9

17Marsden (1998) argues that scientific research has largely confirmed the thesis that feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior can indeed spread through populations like a contagion. Simple exposure sometimes appears to be a sufficient condition for social transmission to occur.

18User-generated content placed on the internet provides numerous examples of transgressing boundaries of the control over private images. One American student, Ryan Halligan, was derided for months as some of his schoolmates spread the rumor via the internet that he was gay. Halligan committed suicide at the age of 13. Fellow students of a Canadian teenager, Ghyslain Raza, put his personal video without permission on the internet as a joke. Raza was so distraught that he had to be treated in a psychiatric clinic.10 These examples show that the usage of personal images in blackmailing and similar negative practices are far from uncommon among teenagers. Therefore, we should deal seriously with regulation of the blogosphere, or, to put it positively, with the protection of human rights of others.

8.2. Three possible types of regulation

19There are three possible types of regulation: self-regulation, co-regulation, and regulation by law. Self-regulation is a voluntary initiative in which the operators/providers, social partners, non-governmental organizations, or associations adopt common guidelines among and for themselves. In general, EU policies support self-regulation. The EU suggests that effective self-regulation can complement the legislative and judicial and/or administrative mechanisms in place. At the same time, self-regulation should not be treated as a substitute for the obligations of the national legislator.

20Co-regulation is usually understood as a legal link between self-regulation and the national legislator. Co-regulation should allow the state to intervene if its objectives are not being met. Regulation by law is the strictest, and not always the most effective, method of regulation. it is applied when both self-regulation and co-regulation work poorly, or not at all.

21The EU policies encourage the use of co-regulation and self-regulation. However, these approaches present other shortcomings. They have a limited and closed character, lacking the universality typical of law. Therefore, some experts Zankova (2006) view self- and co-regulation as effective in a form of complementary measures. This interpretation can also be discerned in the European policy documents. For example, the EU suggests, in its recommendation on the protection of children and their dignity and mental health in the new media environment, implementing a multistakeholders’ approach (European Parliament and the Council, 2006b).

22An initial lack of support for legal regulation, co-regulation, or self-regulation of the internet-related communication around the world is gradually being replaced by more expressions of need for the three principal regulatory measures, or a combination of them.

8.3. self-regulation and co-regulation in the blogosphere

23In the absence of legal regulation, some have expressed the need for self-regulation of the blogosphere. This need was probably discussed publicly for the first time in early 2007 by a group of American bloggers.

24A well-known internet “guru,” Tim O’Reilly (2007), and his colleagues outlined a “Blogger’s Code of Conduct.” First published on March 31, 2007, the Code was designed to respond to the firestorm caused by violent and disturbing comments on O’Reilly’s friend’s blog. significantly, the first rule of this Code urges, “Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.” in his commentary O’Reilly wrote that we now have one more clear object-lesson on what we get when a site not only tolerates but encourages mean comments: There is a quick race to the bottom. O’Reilly believes that there is a big difference between censorship and encouraging and tolerating an abuse.11

25Pressure for self-regulation on the internet applies not only to user-generated content. Some media content providers have also agreed on self-regulation with approval by a regulatory body. The UK’s major broadcasters and media content providers agreed in early 2008 to abide by a new set of good-practice principles covering the audiovisual content accessed by users via the internet and mobile phones. The guidelines, in fact, do not cover user-generated content. The main rationale is to give users enough information to make informed choices about the content they are about to view—whether it is suitable for children, and whether it may offend. The guidelines were supported by the UK’s regulator Ofcom.

26News sites typically self-regulate user comments and feedback in at least one of five ways (Bailey, 2008).12 The first and simplest solution is to reject any user feedback in a public forum. Users may not post anything on the site itself; visitors are encouraged to submit comments via email, often directly to the authors or reporters. The second solution is to allow comments but to have them vetted by a staff member before they go public. The third option is to allow only registered users to comment. All new visitors are required to register for an account, which is usually free, before they can submit comments. The fourth solution allows comments without restriction. While this encourages the highest number of legitimate comments, it also allows spammers to abuse the system. To combat this problem, many sites have staff members review the comments after they are posted. This enables them to remove any comments that violate the rules and, if warranted, take action against the submitter. While this does not prevent unwanted comments from being published, it can keep a site relatively clean. Such a system is popular with blogs and message boards as well as many smaller news sites. Finally, the fifth option for patrolling an open site is to recruit visitors to help the author. In such a system, users can rate comments. Comments that are voted down are hidden or removed from the site. The problem is that in order for the system to work, a handful of visitors have to see the comment or comments.

27Co-regulation in the blogosphere involves cases when one would apply current legislation dealing with general issues of pornography, blasphemy, libel, and so on. This is already the case in most countries that aim to tackle these issues in media policy.

8.4. Legal regulation of the blogosphere

28In many countries, no special legal regulations apply to the blogosphere, either in separate laws or as a part of other laws explicitly mentioning the blogosphere. This is due primarily to the novelty of this method of communication and secondly to the belief that existing legislation can safely cover public electronic communication. Alternatively, legal measures cover various aspects of internet-related communication. At the same time, the legal space is rapidly changing, because there are either specific laws for the internet providers or for materials generated by users, and/or national courts in Europe increasingly take seriously issues of sexually explicit material, false information, fraud, incitement to violence, harassment, threats, or defamation distributed or published on the internet. An additional concern is political lobbying in the blogosphere.

29Allison R. Hayward identifies three possible strategies for applying domestic law to foreign internet communications:

“One, governments may pursue the foreign speaker, ‘going after’ offenders outside the country who have assets or a business or some personal presence within the country. Two, they may thwart communications midstream by targeting the service providers, browsers, networks, and financial supporters who make up the domestic end of the network. Three, they may use filtering technology to censor material, or block access to servers and sites with unlawful content” (Hayward, 2007).

30The first alternative, according to Hayward (2007), may be seen as an imposition on the sovereignty of another country, as targeted individuals and groups will tend to resist attempts to impose the national laws of a country far from home. The second and third options also entail shortcomings: They not only target the offending conduct, but tend to cut off all exchange with a particular server, ISP, browser, or search engine. Such approaches may go too far to suppress lawful speech, are difficult to implement, and moreover, can be circumvented by more sophisticated operators.

31These reasons may explain the difficulties of, and lack of support for, including the blogosphere in the new audiovisual Media services directive (AMSD) of the EEC. In general, liability of hosts for content placed on the internet by others is regulated by the EU E-Commerce directive. There is no room for new systems of licensing or administrative authorization on any type of audiovisual media in AMSD either. However, this directive is still useful for discussion as a largely analog regulatory mechanism that deals with very similar and sometimes overlapping issues.

32This directive defines audiovisual media services as mass media. These media services, in other words, are intended for, and could have a clear impact on, a significant proportion of the general public. In practice, this definition could cover the blogosphere, at least in the long run. However, the directive makes it clear that the blogosphere and websites are excluded from its scope. The directive states that stand-alone text-based services should not fall within its scope (European Parliament and the Council, 2007). However, Member states can regulate such services at a national level. Nor does the directive cover electronic versions of newspapers and magazines.

33Furthermore, the audiovisual Media services directive states that it does not cover activities that are primarily non-economic and that do not compete with television broadcasting, such as private websites and services consisting of the provision or distribution of audiovisual content generated by private users for the purposes of sharing and exchange within communities of interest. In addition, the directive explicitly excludes any form of private correspondence, such as e-mails sent to a limited number of recipients and websites that contains audiovisual elements only in an ancillary manner (European Parliament and the Council, 2007, p. 29).

34Nevertheless, some explanatory notes concerning the directive are useful for the discussion about regulation, self-regulation, or co-regulation of the blogosphere. For example, the directive states that “because of the specific nature of audiovisual media services, especially the impact of these services on the way people form their opinions, it is essential for users to know exactly who is responsible for the content of these services” (European Parliament and the Council, 2007, p. 32). Such a measure would be useful to identify who is responsible for the content and comments in the blogosphere. Also, posing the following questions would be instructive: Who generated the anonymous comments? a provider? An editor? Or an author? Or perhaps all three share some responsibility, be it legal or ethical?

35The directive addresses the protection of minors and human dignity: “Measures taken to protect the physical, mental and moral development of minors and human dignity should be carefully balanced with the fundamental right to freedom of expression as laid down in the Charter on Fundamental rights of the European Union. The aim of those measures, such as the use of personal identification numbers (PIN codes), filtering systems or labelling, should thus be to ensure an adequate level of protection of the physical, mental and moral development of minors and human dignity […].” (European Parliament and the Council, 2007, pp. 32–33). Certainly, this is an important guideline for discussion about why, how, and what to regulate in the blogosphere.

36The directive forbids distribution of child pornography and urges governments to see to it that audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction do not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion, or nationality. This is again highly topical with respect to blogs and extremist websites. At the same time, relevant provisions covering the aspects mentioned above are laid down in criminal laws.

8.5. The U.S. and German regulation of the blogosphere

37In many aspects, there is a fundamental difference between the U.S. and European, especially German, approaches to freedom of speech on the internet. The German perspective, by and large, marks the prevailing trend in the EU, with the possible exception of the United Kingdom or the Nordic countries. As Hayward (2007) puts it, the U.S. law protects blogging content, but may impose restrictions on the source of political commentary by barring certain funding sources. The U.S. Supreme Court has noted that internet activity is different from previous forms of communication: unlike communications received by radio or television, “the receipt of information on the internet requires a series of affirmative steps more deliberate and directed than merely turning a dial” (Justice Stevens quoted by Hayward, 2007, p. 4). The Court concluded that the statute could be enforced only if enforcement was limited to obscene communications, which under prevailing precedent are entitled to much less legal protection.

38The CDA (Communications decency act) also contained a provision that protected internet service Providers (ISPS) from liability for material posted in the internet by others. In the blog context, original blogged material would be deemed “published” by the blogger, but comments (even anonymous ones) posted by visitors would not be attributed to the blogger. Moreover, ISPS cannot be required to identify anonymous internet posters without a court order. The U.S. Supreme Court reasoned that anonymous internet speech was the modern-day equivalent of “political pamphleteering” in line with “an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent” (quoting McIntyre v. Ohio in Hayward, 2007, p. 5). In contrast, private legal actions against bloggers in the United States are more frequent. Typically, they take the form of a “cease-and-desist” letter to the author or his ISP requesting that content be removed. American law encourages this ISP reaction, in part by providing immunity from copyright liability if ISPS promptly take down allegedly infringing content.

39German law imposes stricter limits on the content of blogging but does not regulate financial sources related to political blogs to the same degree as in the United States. German law protects personal reputation and dignity more vigorously (even allowing them to trump the right to free expression) and is more ready to bar certain political communications altogether (Hayward, 2007, p. 10). German law also permits private individuals to enforce rights to personal reputation against other private parties (Hayward, 2007).

40Under the German Criminal Code, defamation faces tougher standards in Germany. Defamation is defined as an insult made in a person’s presence, slander or malicious defamation, or factual claims that harm a person’s reputation. To avoid prosecution, the maker of the statement must prove that what s/he said was true. Civil liability in German law reaches further, protecting a person’s “personality right” by recognizing three zones. Hayward (2007, p. 11) specifies them as an “intimate zone” containing a person’s personal beliefs, health and intimate details; a “private zone” protecting private and family life; and an “individual zone” protecting image and self-determination, such publishing a photo of another. If these zones are breached, claimants can demand compensation.

41If the author of illegal speech is out of reach of the German authorities, they are quite willing to enforce the laws on internet service providers and hosts. German federal regions (Länder) have regulatory authority over media content, and some Länder are less permissive than others. It is interesting to note in this context that German imprint laws require content providers to identify themselves. Web sites are included in this requirement, so even amateur sites and blogs have an imprint page listing the author’s name, address, and other identification information, including a tax identification number.

42European court rulings may offer greater protection than domestic German law but seem inconsistent and thus add uncertainty and ambiguity to the situation (Hayward, 2007). The European position is that the blogosphere must not be regulated like private communication, while the U.S. courts have acknowledged its media-like nature. The crux of the question is what media is in the newly established communications environment. Zankova (2006, pp. 63–64) therefore proposes that Europe adopt horizontal-type regulation. In this so-called “regulatory space,” various interested parties work together to achieve a common goal through a combination of legal and other norms, such as voluntary codes, self-regulatory rules, professional guidelines, and ethical norms.

43Certainly, a combination of legal and non-legal measures is needed. However, in order to guarantee the effectiveness and social impact of the regulators, these bodies should embrace both rule-making and controlling powers. Finally, these bodies should be technologically competent and pragmatically oriented (Zankova 2006, pp. 68–69). The arguments mentioned above hold that the U.S. approach (aiming generally at the protection of blogging content, but able to impose restrictions on the source of political commentary by barring certain funding sources), although not always consistent at a state level, generally seems more appropriate than the EU approach.

8.6. Political and civic issues of regulation of the blogosphere

44As Raboy (2006) states, communication is a double-edged sword. It has tremendously increased the capacity to participate in public life— at least for those with access to the means. At the same time it has enhanced the ability of governments and corporations to track us, watch us, market us, and eventually, if they deem it necessary, to gag us. This is why policy issues surrounding media—and the choices that they imply—continue to be so important.

45Some tendencies towards too-strict regulation can be found in today’s international blogosphere. There is a particularly strong tendency to regulate political discussions in the blogosphere in illliberal countries. In China the government decided to introduce new rules governing the publication of blogs and webcasts in 2007. There were over 20 million bloggers in China at the end of 2006, of which 3 million were regularly published. Search engines Google and Yahoo had to accept rules filtering out “sensitive” issues such as the independence of Taiwan or the Falun Gong. The Chinese government temporarily or permanently blocks hundreds of websites. Not all of the Chinese government’s motivation is purely political. For example, one Chinese blogger published the names and personal data of all her former lovers. One of the softer methods of regulation suggested by the Chinese government is to secure the true identity of bloggers.13

46Controversies over the legal and regulatory issues in the blogosphere are worldwide. For example, the Egyptian court sentenced to a four-year term a blogger who had insulted Islam and Egypt’s president in 2007. In April 2007, YouTube made an offer to the government of Thailand to block a video which was regarded as offending the Thai king. Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have blocked access to the secular portal rezgar.com.

47While regulation of the blogosphere in illiberal countries is not so different from regulation of the traditional media, liberal countries are more challenged by this new arena of communication. There has been a broad consensus that, in practice, regulation of the blogosphere should rely on democratic, clear, and transparent institutions and procedures.

48The blogosphere brings new challenges to politics at local, national, and international levels. For example, a famous U.S. blogger, Matt drudge, put on his blog a translation of the skeptical speech on global warming given by Czech President Václav Klaus. This seems the most likely way that American conservatives learned about this speech— from other U.S. blogs that cited this translation.

49As mentioned earlier, problem areas appear from fake political or politicians’ blogs, but also fake expert or company blogs too. It is still an open question how we should deal with this phenomenon.

50A case study of protection of copyright can be instructive here. Initially, it seemed that the internet would provide a very spotty view of human knowledge, because most owners of copyrighted information were reluctant to release it in this freebooting realm. But the internet has become available for an extended use at a marginal cost compared to that of the commercial databases. In contrast to a commercial sector offering copyrighted information for sale and thus discouraging browsers, the internet is full of people browsing. As a result, the boundaries of and terms of use of copyright are under constant redefinition. Regulatory issues concerning the internet in general and the blogosphere in particular are challenging our traditional understanding of freedom of expression and communication.

8.7. Conclusion

51This chapter has attempted to outline some important emerging regulatory issues related to the blogosphere. The blogosphere may or may not be a vivid alternative public sphere. But it certainly brings new controversial issues and regulatory challenges. Some advice on how to maintain blogs ethically and legally can be found in Franklin (2007).14

  • 15 Mahoney, R. (2007) “Writing (ethical) Code,” in Dangerous Assignments, spring/summer, pp. 40–41 (h (...)

52In May 2007 a new initiative appeared in the blogosphere that might help avoid some of the problems mentioned above. The initiative, called “The Face Behind The Blog Collection,” was inspired by a Chinese proverb: “one picture is worth 10,000 words.” The idea behind this initiative is that putting a face to the name of someone you have not met helps recognition and adds a more personal feel to your conversations. This is perhaps one attempt at the self-regulation of the blogosphere. Another example represents a work on the code of ethics for technology companies like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Vodafone, operating in countries such as China and Vietnam that practise censorship.15 This code of ethics should deal not only with blogs but with internet communication in general.

53In other areas, the police or judiciary usually takes charge, as has already happened in Germany, the United States, and Slovakia. If there is no self-regulation, or if it fails, legal regulation takes place. The scope and use of this regulation greatly depends on national tradition in each country. There is little chance that this truly borderless communication will be regulated at the EU or, indeed, international regulatory level.

Notes

1 This paper greatly benefited from comments by Dr. Beata Klimkiewicz from the University of Krakow, Poland, and Dr. Bissera Zankova from St. Kliment Ohridsky university in Sofia, Bulgaria.

2 Available at http://pocitace.sme.sk/clanok.asp?cl=3459926; retrieved august 12, 2007.

3 Čuláková, J. (2006) Prečo odchádzam? (http://culakova.blog.sme.sk/; retrieved April 24, 2006).

4 Ibid.

5 Pastier, M. (2007) Marketing a médiá. Skutočné problémy pre falošné blogy (http://www.sme.sk/c/3328965/skutocne-problemy-pre-falosne-blogy.html; retrieved January 3, 2008).

6 Čuláková, J. (2006) Prečo odchádzam? (http://culakova.blog.sme.sk/; retrieved April 24, 2006).

7 See: Garaj, P. (2007) Vymetanie hnoja z diskusných fór (http://medialne.etrend.sk/internet/clanok.php?clanok=3022; retrieved april 3, 2007); Glevická, M. (2007) Anonymné diskusie pod blogmi dokážu odradiť aj profesionála. Blogy osobností končia rýchlo (http://www.sme.sk/c/3446889/Blogyosobnosti-koncia-rychlo.html; retrieved august 20, 2007).

8 Nicholsonová, L. (2006) Internet zaplavujú vulgarizmy. Prečo je to tak? (http://aktualne.centrum.sk/nazory/clanek.phtml?id=218457; retrieved October 30, 2006).

9 Angry/Negative People Can Be Bad for Your Brain (http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2006/04/angrynegative_p.html; retrieved January 5, 2007).

10 Aj internet už spoznal šikanovanie (http://aktualne.centrum.sk/veda-a-technika/svet-pocitacov/clanek.phtml?id=242956; retrieved July 24, 2007).

11 O’Reilly, T. (2007) Draft Blogger’s Code of Conduct (http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/04/draft_bloggers_1.html; retrieved March 2, 2008).

12 Bailey, J. (2008) Got Something to Say? Creating a Comment Policy (http://www.ejc.net/magazine/article/got_something_to_say_creating_a_comment_policy; retrieved January 23, 2008).

13 Vozárová, E. (2007) Čína obmedzí bloggerov (http://medialne.etrend.sk/internet/sprava.php?sprava=3408; retrieved March 16, 2007).

14 Franklin, S. (2007) Ten Steps to Citizen Journalism Online (http://www.ijnet.org/Director.aspx?P=Training&ID=303000; retrieved February 2, 2008).

15 Mahoney, R. (2007) “Writing (ethical) Code,” in Dangerous Assignments, spring/summer, pp. 40–41 (http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2007/Da_spring_07/Da_spring_07.pdf; retrieved February 2, 2008).

Auteur

Andrej ŠKolKay is affiliated with the Press Council of Slovakia. He received his PhD from Comenius Univerity, Bratislava, Slovakia, 2000. His research interests focus on political communication. Most important publications include: Communication of the Government (Bratislava, 2003); Populist Parties and Campaigns before the EU Referendum in Slovakia (in Populism and Media Democracy, 2005); Slovakia (in The Media in Europe. The Euromedia Handbook, 2004); Slovakia (in Business As Usual. Continuity and Change in Central and Eastern European Media, 2004). Andrej Školkay provides expertise for various national and international institutions, including UNDP. E-mail: askolkay@hotmail.com

© Central European University Press, 2010

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