Thursday

17th Aug 2017

MEPs kill EU 'blogger registry' that never was

  • The status of bloggers as reporters is unclear (Photo: European Commission)

Calls for Europe to initiate a process clarifying the legal status of bloggers - a discourse many across Europe had erroneously believed was in fact EU legislation that would have seen a European 'registry of bloggers' - died on the floor of the European Parliament on Thursday (25 September).

MEPs passed a resolution with 307 votes to 262 calling on the European Commission and member states to safeguard pluralism amongst newspapers, television programmes, radio and on the internet in an era of ever-concentrating media ownership.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The resolution also called for "an open discussion on all issues relating to the status of weblogs" - much softer language regarding blogs than had earlier appeared in the report on which the resolution was based.

Estonian centre-left MEP Marianne Mikko - the report's author - had wanted to call for full clarification of the legal status of webblog authors, disclosure of bloggers' interests and the voluntary labelling of blogs, all of which had been supported by MEPs across the political spectrum at the committee level.

MEPs had been worried that the legal situation of bloggers regarding source protection is unclear, as was where liability should be assigned in the event of lawsuits. The Euro-deputies had thus recommended that blogs and their authors be taken out of this legal limbo.

Such language however produced a firestorm of reaction in Sweden when the report emerged in the Swedish media in June.

At the time, the Swedish government had recently narrowly passed legislation that gave officials the power to open all emails and listen to any telephone conversation in the country, and Ms Mikko's proposals around blogs seemed to be of a similar nature to the government's surveillance bill.

Commentators across the political spectrum confused the report, which has no legal weight, with binding legislation, and claimed it would have produced a "blogger registry." One Swedish politician condemned it as "another example of Big Brother snooping into people's daily lives."

"I've been subject to a lot of attacks from bloggers all over Europe," Ms Mikko told reporters after the passage of the resolution. "I've been called Mao Tse-Tung, Lukashenko, Ceauscescu - it's not very pleasant."

"I understand and yet I don't understand the reaction of bloggers," she said. "Nobody is interested in regulating the internet ... But I understand how a sensitivity was touched. I'm sorry that's the playground we're dealing with at the moment."

She pointed out that while print and online journalists in various jurisdictions are restricted by slander and libel legislation, the status of bloggers as reporters is unclear.

"Are bloggers equally trusted [as journalists]? I'm getting a little bit concerned."

"All you journalists know how powerful the web is," she said, speaking to reporters at a press conference. "But do all bloggers think the same? The web is a weapon in your hands. You can kill someone with your words."

Media concentration

The brou-ha-ha over the supposed blogger registry has overshadowed the main elements of the resolution, which focuses on corporate concentration of the media.

While there has been a proliferation of new commercial outlets in recent years around the world - particularly within broadcasting and on the internet - a slew of mergers have sharply narrowed the number of companies in the media business to the point where the majority of outlets are owned by just a few major conglomerates, such as Bertelsmann, Vivendi, News Corp, Viacom and Time Warner.

Media critics worry that these conglomerates lean toward a single centre-right political perspective, crowding out other views.

Further, to prevent owners, shareholders or governments from interfering with editorial content, MEPs called for the creation of editorial charters.

The resolution also encourages the disclosure of ownership of all media outlets. In a veiled reference to Italy, it says that within Europe, competition law and media law should be interlinked to avoid conflicts between media ownership concentration and political power.

In Italy, media watchdogs are concerned that Silvio Berlusconi is not only prime minister and ultimately the boss of the public broadcasters, but is also the owner of much of the country's private media outlets.

Analysis

Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue

Fico convinced the EU commission chief to take action in the perceived problem of discriminatory food practices, even though the evidence for the phenomenon is anecdotal.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

EU Commission to act on Poland

The EU executive is likely to issue a new set of rule of law recommendations to Poland and start legal probes once the controversial pieces of legislation have been published.

Orban vows to defend Poland from EU's 'inquisition'

The Hungarian leader called EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans an "inquisitor", allied with George Soros and the Brussels elite, and argued for the EU executive to stop being a political body.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  2. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  3. Russian power most feared in Europe
  4. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  5. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  6. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  7. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  8. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides