Douglas Carswell

15 MAR 2017

We need a Bloggers Freedom Bill

Five years ago, I crowdsourced a Private Members' Bill on Guido Fawkes. From five options, the people picked a Bill to repeal the European Communities Act. How prescient they were. Now I'd like to revive another of my suggestions: a Bloggers Freedom Bill.

Britain's libel laws are out of date. They were developed at a time when very few people published anything. Those who did were affiliated to large organisations with the financial resources to defend themselves in court.

Yet they are now applied in a world where millions of individuals – without financial backing – publish constantly, both online and on social media.

The law needs to be updated for the digital age.

People do need protection from libel, and their intellectual property should be safeguarded. But, at the same time, those posting on social media should have some security against being sued.

The Bloggers Freedom Bill I suggested would be a compromise. It would give bloggers and tweeters a 48-hour period of grace – to remove content – before legal action could be taken.

The status quo skews the law in the interests of big media, rich claimants, and lawyers. It restricts the democratisation of media made possible by the digital revolution.

Let's make libel law reflect today's reality – and the public interest.

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