Thursday, September 25, 2008

European Parliament and bloggers - 2.0

As I mentioned Tuesday, there has been a suggestion for a report on Concentration and pluralism in the media in the European Union presented to the EU Parliament this week. This happened Monday, and several amendments have been made to the original report by Marianne Mikko. Most significantly for bloggers, the current report (document 002-002) reads:
22. Encourages an open discussion on all issues relating to the status of weblogs;

This is a pretty radical change from the original plan for a registry of bloggers. But perhaps the most interesting amendment is not in the suggestions, but in the list or "whereas" - the reasons and the background for the suggestions:
AD. whereas weblogs represent an important new contribution to freedom of expression and are increasingly used by media professionals as well as by private persons,

This is quite a turn about, from a document that was asking for a registry og bloggers in order to combat spam, desinformation and pollution of the internet, to an aknowledgement that weblogs contribute to the freedom of expression.

So, despite the somewhat omnious encouragement for debate on the status of weblogs (read: we're not done with you yet, bloggers!), this document is a lot more uplifting than the earlier documents. This is however not the only direction in which the document has been changed.

From being a fairly direct attack on media ownership structures, it is now an even more direct endorsement and encouragement of public broadcasting as an alternative in order to retain or regain media diversity. For instance, on how new technology is embraced in the name of pluralism:
R. whereas, however, respect for pluralism of information and diversity of content is not automatically guaranteed by technological advances, but must come about through an active, consistent and vigilant policy on the part of the national public authorities,

And in the suggestions:
4. Calls, therefore, both for a balance between public and private broadcasters - in those Member States where public broadcasters presently exist - and for the interlinking of competition and media law to be guaranteed in order to strengthen the plurality of the media; emphasises that public media broadcasters are also increasingly driven by profit-making, often raising questions relating to the appropriate use of public funds;

5. Believes that the main objectives of public authorities should be to create conditions that ensure a high level of media quality (including those of the public media), secure media diversity and guarantee the full independence of journalists;

However, the perhaps most interesting point comes tucked in almost at the end, as suggestion number 48:
48. Calls for greater transparency with respect to personal data and information kept on users by Internet search engines, email providers and social networking sites;

Suddenly there is an added point about social networking sites, search engines, email providers, and their use and potential abuse of the information we, as participants upload to them. I have to say that this starts getting interesting. Organisations such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other of the main actors in this field have become so big that it takes a union of nations to be able to ask them vital questions such as: What do you do with the information you are collecting about us all?

This is a very different and much more interesting document than the original one, and while I am both repelled and fascinated by the style and language of these documents, they are proof that group processes and the machinery of democracy sometimes do lead to better results

1 comment:

Colin McAllister said...

Torill, as a science lecturer I also encourage open discussion using blogs and social networking sites. See my blog post
"Who was Isaac Newton? Let's communicate!" at Regards, Colin.