The Leveson inquiry is irrelevant to 21st-century journalism

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, the internet abhors geo-specific regulation. I may read about a contempt of court ruling in the UK, I Google a related name and the restricted identity is everywhere – in the image results, in dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of articles, and beyond that discussed on maybe even millions of social media pages. Deletion and retrieval does not work, and gossip cannot be easily doused. Lord McAlpine is suing half of Twitter on the basis that retweets of the BBC’s error are each worth £5 of damage.This is one of the most obvious and troubling challenges for any remedy that the Leveson inquiry tries to impose on the UK press. Lord Justice Leveson more than once referred to the internet as “the elephant in the room”. Leveson is in fact more like the tea hut in the elephant sanctuary by that measure. The scope of the work puts him in self-imposed isolation from what is happening in the wider world of information.

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