There are widespread calls to regulate social media. Hardly a day goes by without some new outrage which eclipses what we have seen already. One of the great problems for anyone wishing to put a stop to the abuse is that social media users can easily make themselves anonymous. If they are ejected from a platform, they can re-enrol under a new identity. All it takes to open an account on a platform is an email address. And all it takes to get an email address is … absolutely nothing at all.Read more
Invitation to a duel
A few weeks ago, I spoke at an international conference on regulation. One of my fellow panellists told me, as we took our seats, that he was against regulation. I rubbed my hands with glee in anticipation that sparks would soon begin to fly. Sadly, the only sparks were the evidence of us getting on like a house on fire. He wasn’t against regulation; it was just bad regulation that he couldn’t tolerate. Me too.Read more
We disagree … so you must be lying?
From working as an independent expert witness, I know only too well that it is not unusual to find one’s client acting as though nothing the opposing party says can ever be believed. As a mediator, I have seen this attitude taken by both sides simultaneously. Sometimes in a dispute, both sides are inveterate liars. But quite often I would see two parties who were both incapable of seeing that their opponent’s point of view was not built (entirely) on falsehood. It seems that is where we are now with Brexit.Read more
Hard Brexit is dead. Long live … hard Brexit
I keep hearing that last Friday’s agreement between the UK and the EU 27 means that a hard Brexit is off the table. Well, I’m looking at the table and I can still a hard Brexit resting atop it.Read more
Reporters Sans Frontieres: not my idea of a knock out
I was disappointed to read recently that the UK has dropped to 40th place in the World Press Freedom Index. Among the 39 countries which are said to offer the press greater freedom than the UK are South Africa, Surinam and Namibia, according to the ranking body Reporters Sans Frontieres. But then I noticed that the UK’s ranking was three places ahead of the USA which guarantees freedom of the press under its constitution. What’s going on here?Read more
Marx out of ten for the attack on price caps?
When the Thatcher government privatised British Telecom in the 1980s, they created a regulator to cap prices. They did the same with the privatisation of water, electricity and gas. No one suggested then that Thatcher’s policy was Marxist or State intervention. So is there any justification for such accusations now that Theresa May is proposing that the energy regulator should reintroduce a cap?Read more
A pressing need for regulation …
In 2012, when I clicked on a link in order to watch a family friend appear in front of the Leveson Inquiry, I little realised just how much the subject of press regulation would get under my skin. Sometimes in a good way. But, all too often, it’s more like formication.Read more
A horse. A zebra. Or maybe it’s a fish?
Regulatory dreams and economic nightmares
In the early days of my career, I occasionally dreamed that I had failed my professional exams and was being summoned back for a re-sit. Since I never actually practised in the discipline in which I qualified, I’m not sure what game my subconscious was playing with me. But last week I dreamed I was back at university… only to wake up and find that I was.Read more
Moses and the Culture Secretary
It has been a strange week for those of us who took a keen interest in press regulation as a result of the Leveson Inquiry.Read more