Friday, September 05, 2008

The wheel turns slow, but it grinds awfy fine...

Back in early 2007, your humble Devil was instrumental in creating a blogstorm around the EU's Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia; it was picked up not only because it was an abysmal and illiberal proposal, but because it specifically targeted bloggers.
But the really bad news for bloggers is in Article 10: Jurisdiction (I will publish the whole document, but I need to get some clearance first). [Emphasis mine.]
Article 10
  1. Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to establish its jurisdiction with regard to the conduct referred to in Articles 1 and 2 where the conduct has been committed:
    • (a) in whole or in part within its territory; or

    • (b) by one of its nationals; or

    • (c) for the benefit of a legal person [i.e. a company, charity, etc—DK] that has its head office in the territory of that Member State.

  2. When establishing jurisdiction in accordance with paragraph 1(a), each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that its jurisdiction extends to cases where the conduct is committed through an information system and:
    • (a) the offender commits the conduct when physically present in its territory, whether or not the conduct involves material hosted on an information system in its territory;

    • (b) the conduct involves material hosted on an information system in its territory, whether or not the offender commits the conduct when physically present in its territory.

That's right, a blog is "an information system" and it doesn't matter where it's hosted; you can still go to gaol.

From that point on, it was obvious that blogs (and other content management systems) had come to the attention of our EU masters. And, as Dan Hannan points out, we bloggers are very much not inclined to be pro-Le Grand Projet. Something, therefore, must be done: governments and almost all of the established media are happy to toe the EU line (yes, they are. Some may stage a minor revolt but they are more intent on hiding the true extent of Brussels' reach).
Eurocrats are especially upset because many bloggers, being of an anarchic disposition, are anti-Brussels. In the French, Dutch and Irish referendums, the MSM were uniformly pro-treaty, whereas internet activity was overwhelmingly sceptical.

Indeed. And, of course, there can be no dissent from the great plan, eh?
Bruno Waterfield recently reported on a secret Commission report about the danger posed by online libertarians: "Apart from official websites, the internet has largely been a space left to anti-European feeling. Given the ability to reach an audience at a much lower cost, and given the simplicity of the No campaign messages, it has proven to be easily malleable during the campaign and pre-campaign period."

The EU's solution? Why, to regulate blogs! Back in June (hat tip, EU Referendum), MEPs began to complain that unlicensed blogs were "polluting" cyberspace with "misinformation and malicious intent". They wanted "a quality mark, a disclosure of who is writing and why".

Indeed they did, and your humble Devil commented on it at the time. Rather unusually, I did try to write a somewhat measured article, citing Jon Worth's calm warning that it was a toothless piece of legislation... well... it was not even legislation.
Get a grip folks. What’s the first thing to do when someone in the EP sounds off? Look at what sort of document we’re talking about… In this case it’s an EP resolution - you can find the original report and a list of amendments here. It’s not legislation (i.e. not a Directive or a Regulation). It’s only a little bit more formal than an EDM in Westminster...

But Master Hannan continues...
At the time, I dismissed it as the ramblings of a single dotty MEP. Not even the European Parliament, I thought, would actually try to censor the internet. I was wrong. We now have the full report and, sure enough, it wants to "clarify the status, legal or otherwise, of weblogs", and to ensure their "voluntary labelling according to the professional and financial responsibilities and interests of their authors and publishers".

Ah, yes; the old voluntary ploy. It's a good one because, you see, who could possibly object to voluntary labelling apart from those who are up to no good, eh? And for them, of course, it will become compulsory. And who could possibly object to bad people having to declare who they are?

If all else fails, the politicos could just mention that these people who object to being labelled and regulated might be paedophiles and won't someone think of the chiiiiiiiiiiildreeeeeeen?
With a glorious lack of self-awareness, the Euro-MPs behind the report elaborate their motives: "The report points out that the undetermined and unindicated status of authors and publishers of weblogs causes uncertainties regarding impartiality, reliability, source protection, applicability of ethical codes and the assignment of liability in the event of lawsuits. It recommends clarification of the legal status of different categories of weblog authors and publishers as well as disclosure of interests and voluntary labelling of weblogs."

I'll repeat what I have said whenever the subject of blog regulation has come up: shut up, fuck off and die, you hideous bunch of cunts.

Once again, Jon Worth is sounding a forlorn note of caution...
Back in June there was a lot of debate on numerous blogs about a draft European Parliament Resolution by Estonian Socialist Marianne Mikko. The original draft contained some rather strong paragraphs about placing legal restrictions on blogs but, after all, the initial draft - as I argued at the time - was probably the misguided view of one MEP, and that some MEPs had proposed sensible amendments.

Now Mikko has taken on board some of the amendments from MEPs in the Culture Commitee and a new draft has been produced, the version that will probably be the basis for a vote. Why is this any worse than what we had? Well, Daniel Hannan calls Mikko’s document the ‘full report’ - correct. But the document would still only be a resolution, it’s not a regulation or a directive. EU Referendum does not seem to understand that this document still will not have legal force - it’s the EP equivalent of an early day motion.

I can't help thinking, however, that whilst Jon might consider his analysis "careful", that there is a rather large element of self-denial in his piece. We have seen him dismiss the measures as the wild ravings of a sole MEP; now we see these same measures incoroporated into a full report; in time, the report will be voted on and... well, what then? Jon maintains that this vote "will not have legal force"—but then what is the point on voting on something if there are going to be no legal repercussions?

Are they simply dicking about, or will the passing of the vote give a green light to the Commission drawing up legislation? After all, if the majority of the European Parliament vote in favour of regulating blogs, then regulating blogs must be the will of the people, right? And the EU exists to serve its somewhat perverted view of what it believes the will of the people is.

I look forward to seeing the first Framework for the Regulation of Weblogs from the Commission, and to Jon dismissing it as something that has no legal force. And then, as the laws are passed, Jon adopting the attitude that only those with something to hide have something to fear.

And then, as the UK state implements the Directive, I look forward to Jon arguning that the UK government has gold-plated the legislation and that the EUI really isn't responsible.

I hope that I'm wrong about the progression of events, but I bet that I'm not.
So, now as previously, the EU does not have a hope of controlling blogging the way that Mikko’s report advocates. If that were to even be a danger you would see an enormous lobbying effort from Member States...

Well, they might lobby in favour of the legislation, yes. After all, various advisors close to the Labour government have proposed not dissimilar measures. And blogs are a thorn in the side of the government, as NuLabour have found. And, much as they are revelling in that now, I bet that the attitude of the Tories will change once they are in power. Cameron and his merry band probably imagine that they will get an easy ride from the blogosphere that they apparently domainate: they are in for a nasty surprise—the Left are beginning to fight dirty and the libertarians are certainly not about to stop kicking the government.
Let me make it clear - I don’t want this legislation either, but let’s not get carried away.

Well, I hope that you are right, Jon, I really do. But I am pretty confident that the course of events will be rather more similar to that which I outlined above. In which case, as Dan Hannan wrote in an email to me...
You'll be first in line, Devil. You tick all their boxes: libertarian, anonymous, anti-Brussels, popular.

I suspect that Dan is entirely correct. But, in the meantime—just so that The Kitchen's loyal readers and our right royal leaders know where I stand—the EU can go fuck itself, the stinking, whore's cunt of an organisation that it is.

Fuck off and die, you evil fucking cunts.


Me said...

I can't understand why there isn't a para-military organisation I can go and join and start shooting these cunts.

Anonymous said...

Evil, great minds think alike!

If this does go through then I will be starting my own anti eu blog hosted outside the eu and updated through a vpn.

Or making IEDs, and going on a day trip to brussels.

One or the other.

Who the fucking fuck do these cocksuckers think they are?


Me said...

If you bombed Brussels noone would notice - it's a shit hole.

Jon Worth said...

You've fallen into the same trap as the others. MPs in Westminster vote all the time on silly early day motions. A resolution in the EP is the same thing - some MEPs sounding off. It should be treated the same way.

That doesn't make what's in it right, but you can take it with a pinch of salt.

If it actully mattered Mikko would have been lobbied like hell.

Devil's Kitchen said...


You need to read the whole post before you comment on it.


Jon Worth said...

Oh, by the way Evil Clanger - it's not as much of a shit hole as London, especially when it comes to places to live. I have a very pleasant large flat here and could never, ever manage to find anything similar in London. And I work as a web designer, not as a bureaucrat.

Plus the beer is good.

Jon Worth said...

I have read the whole post. I just wanted to point out one issue. Apart from over-stating the important of the actual document I don't think you're that far wrong. As you can tell from the end of my most recent post about it on my own blog I'm none too happy about the content of the damned thing myself.

Devil's Kitchen said...


That's fair enough. I acknowledged your statements on this, but I do see it coming in. I also acknowledged that you were none too happy about it.

And you're right: I quite like Brussels. I'm hoping to wander over there to see a few friends in the next few months...


Old Holborn said...

Looks like I need my own Satelite uplink, bounced through a Swiss ISP then. Anyone fancy sharing some bandwidth with me?

(quick, let's start an ISP that doesn't touch any EU cables. HOW many customers would sign up for that knowing the the EU can't touch them, monitor themor censor them?)

Anonymous said...

Anyone recommend a democratic state to which I could migrate?

Me said...

Sorry Mr. Worth, but the EU has much form with regard to supressing anti-EU sentiment like redrawing the rules for supra-national groupings in the parliament so that the proposed new grouping to which the Conservatives wish to belong along with other less slavishly pro-EU parties is denied the same rights as other groups. And also, if Kinnoccio, Patten and the like suddenly started saying the EU is a bag of shite and we should all leave, they'd lose their pensions. They hate dissent and will go a long way to suppress it.

Jon Worth said...

Evil Clanger - I was more on about the city of Brussels, rather than the EU in the reply to you... But reply as you wish.

DK - we better have a chat over a glass of Duvel or Tripel Karmeliet when you're here then. Some other bloggers I know assure me you're not as vicious in person as you are when sat at a keyboard!

Me said...

Worth, get yourself to Bar Stoemelings just off Rue du Trone and get a bottle of La Chouffe down yer kneck - fabulous hostelry. But I stand by my assertion that Brussels is less than glamorous.

Devil's Kitchen said...

DK - we better have a chat over a glass of Duvel or Tripel Karmeliet when you're here then. Some other bloggers I know assure me you're not as vicious in person as you are when sat at a keyboard!

Ah yes, I love Belgian beers -- especially the dark ones. We should definitely do that.

I must get over there: will visit an old friend of mine who I haven't seen for years, Bruno Waterfield owes me and pint and I shall look you up. Definitely...

And yes, I am generally far less abrasive in person!


Anonymous said...

To the person who wishes to migrate:
come to the USA. It is a hospitable country with lots of space and freedoms guaranteed by a Bill of Rights. You can say what you want and even own and use firearms.

Anonymous said...

Bloggers would do well to heed the words of Emile De Antonio when he said, "never underestimate the power of the bureaucrat".

This is going to be a serious fight for the right to freedom of speech for the individual.

Too many people have a laid back dismissive attitude towards the EU tower of Babel and it's machinations. Such an attitude is very dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you publish the full name, constituency, email address,telephone number, home adress of this Fascist MEP, Marianne Miko.

We can then email her, write to her or failing that using Easyjet/Ryanair, we can go to Tallinn and personally call on her and argue our case and remonstrate with her or failing that kill her

Old Holborn said...


Switzerland. 17% income tax and the State gives you a gun.

Anonymous said...

anon 5.27

Are you suggesting that blogging UK MP's will then have to disclose addresses etc.... after they have gone to such lengths to ensure that FoI does not make them disclose them.

Unfortunately there are a mass of precedents for outrageous suggestions that start in the backwoods of the EU, gradually becoming shaped as formal proposals, directives, regulations, and without any real debate into gold plated laws that take away citizen's rights and freedoms.

Kick them hard, kick them early, and kick them often seems to be the only defense. Once the band begins to roll the institutional inertia and scope for back scratching deals keeps them moving until they roll over us.

Thatcher's Child said...

there are two ways of killing the EU.

One is with a gun, an address book and a LOT of bullets - the other is to join the team and create so many laws which work against each other, the whole system falls apart.

The second process is going to take at least 70 years, if the USSR is anything to go by.

The other plan would be never ending because there are just too many of them!

It would be easier to move!

Anonymous said...

The very fact that this subject is being discussed at all bodes very, very ill.
Someone just observed:"Never underestimate a bureaucrat." Never a truer word.
Freedom isn't eroded with the broad brush but with the judicious use of Tippex.

Mac the Knife said...

"I suspect that Dan is entirely correct. But, in the meantime—just so that The Kitchen's loyal readers and our right royal leaders know where I stand—the EU can go fuck itself, the stinking, whore's cunt of an organisation that it is.

Fuck off and die, you evil fucking cunts."

I wish you'd stop dicking around and say what you mean for once... *cuh*

Anonymous said...

There are always dupes and fellow travelers like Jon Worth - some of them well meaning and "moderate". They give assurances about how the EU would never do something but are never around to take responsibility when it does.

Been there, done that, got the tee shirt, for thirty years. Everything the EU does is anti-freedom: authoritarian, centralising, bureaucratic and incompetent. The EU has form and, as a result, twittering apologists are just a joke.

pagar said...

"Everything the EU does is anti-freedom: authoritarian, centralising, bureaucratic and incompetent"

Budgie your right, but so is everthing done by the British Government.

The problem is that neither in Britain or Europe do we have a Bill of Rights to protect the freedom of the individual from the imposition of oppressive law. In my view we have as much chance of getting this at EU level as we do at national level. There are some contributors to this blog who appear to be against the EU for rather grubby nationalistic reasons rather than because it is the generator of so much illiberal legislation.

Despite DK's fervent hope that the EU will "fuck off and die" I can confirm that it won't. But there must be like minded bloggers and libertarians throughout Europe who we can rally round to oppose those who wish to police our thoughts.

Anonymous said...

The Digital equivalent of Book-Burning

and then burning the author.

Dr Evil said...

Totally agree. So they are out to stifle free speech even if the site is hosted in the USA or Japan or wherever. I really do hate these people who oppose free speech and democratic values. BASTARDS!

Anonymous said...

The excellent thing about blogs (I think) is that of content-is-king. You don't get a free ride because of some pre-determined "status, legal or otherwise, of [the] weblogs".

I suspect the reason that politicians don't like blogs it is the argument that matters, not who says it.

It's a classic logic error to do otherwise (c.f. "Hitler was a vegetarian"). What does it matter who is writing a blog or what their intentions are? I can read exactly what they think, and use the "clarification" device between my ears to decide how much I subscribe to what they say.

Trixy said...

What jon Worth is not pointing out is that the European Commission use these resolutions and own initiative reports as a way of finding out what new area of our lives they can regulate and destroy.

They don't have to worry about the voters objecting after all, and so long as they get the support of MEPs and Ministers in their secret meetings which aren't minuted, then it's all systems go.

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