Dec 10, 2012

Is there really too much freedom of speech online?

Once again the old media have missed the point of privacy online, preferring to maintain their patch instead of focusing on issues such as data mining.

Stilgherrian — Technology writer and broadcaster


Technology writer and broadcaster

I used to think the image of bitter old-media dinosaurs railing against the frightening freedoms of the internet was a tired cliche. Can there really be such anger, such blind us-and-them? But on Friday I was shown that there can be and is.

Discussions at the “Privacy in the 21st Century” symposium organised by the Communications Law Centre at the University of Technology Sydney even saw the chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor Julian Disney, complain that there’s too much freedom of speech.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

13 thoughts on “Is there really too much freedom of speech online?

  1. klewso

    Is social media doing much more than taking the intent of the “professional” media (much owned and operated as it is, to what end but influence of perception – with it’s partisan bias, where opinion trumps and even obliterates fact, let alone balance) to it’s “logical” extension?
    The difference being that one gets paid for their views, and the other does it for free?

  2. drmick

    Spot on Klewso. There is not one of them that will print the truth if it is not in their interest.
    They will take as much money as you give them to print anything you want them to print, say or show. Hell, they even pay actors, pros and anyone else who will take money to say what they want them to say. Then they hide behind a freedom of speech fog; freedom of speech for who? like everything else these days, it is only for people who can afford it.
    It is sort of like the worlds oldest profession really.

  3. Edward James

    When main stream media publish lies it is not impossible, but it can be expensive to do something about it. Some people just let it slide. A court may rule what is defamatory. Until that happens the word alleged plays an important part. drmick is correct there is good reason to call them the bought and paid media. So called freedom of expression / speech can be expensive, and yes often you may be betting your house on what you publish, naming and identifying politicians as liars and publishing allegations of corruption. Because the truth is not always a defense. If someone alleges injurious language. Fighting a drawn out defamation action will send most people broke. Edward James

  4. Noely Neate

    I think that there are so many blogs and the like due to the duopoly we have in the media. I don’t mean ownership, I mean the fact that they all seem to subscribe to left or right or just plain opt out. The population does not actually belong in 2 distinct groups, and are therefore getting sick of being told what the news is, what we should find important, what we should be outraged at etc., and instead of just meekly hiding in a corner, many are now using social media to actually see more than just the 2 MSM opinions available. That threatens the MSM I suppose as it means that plebs are now questioning them, something we are not supposed to do 🙂

    It is a shame actually, as there are some very good journos out there and it seems they have instructions to fill certain quotas of styles of stories and I would love to see what they would write and consider to be of national importance if they did not have to use the Right vs Left group think?

  5. klewso

    They also hide behind that PCP sucker-bait/window dressing of their’s, whereby they reckon they can do whatever they like – while “flipping (that) the bird” too.

  6. Pinklefty

    The internet can be a very depressing place, where barely literate individuals vent stupid prejudices, and smarter people (unencumbered by principles) attempt to manipulate public opinion.

    BUT — once you start to censor the rubbish, how do you know when to stop? Obviously, I’d know what to do; but can I really trust anyone else to only censor the ‘bad’ stuff? Noam Chomsky made a valid point when he stated: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

    I tried to cancel my Facebook account, but they would only ‘suspend’ it. It serves me right for ever having stuck my fingers in that unsavoury pie. But to censor it, or anything else, leads to a darker path than the one we are presently on.

    Many people fail to understand that with freedom comes responsibility. That is to be regretted, but it does not excuse the attempt to regulate the free flow of information. Regulated thought is intellectual slavery and only a short step to a more onerous, physical form of regulation.

  7. klewso

    Tell me about it. Look at what Murdoch did with that “freedom” – to do what he liked with his conservative political PR catalogues and their market share.

  8. John Bennetts

    “Privacy in the 21st Century”…

    With only Murdoch press speaking. They know all about privacy. What a (waste of a ) conference!

    Get ’em, Levison. Unleash the dogs. Unfortunately, both he and the British PM have made clear that that won’t happen. Wimps.

  9. fractious

    Surely the greatest irony here is Disney, on behalf of the bunch of patsies that is the APC, complaining about “too much freedom of speech” and “a cacophony of irrelevant and vitriolic comment streams”

    Well he orta know. How many times has he and his band of MSM stool pigeons found in favour of the likes of Henderson, Akerman and Devine when their several illiberal, inflammatory and vitriolic untruths were challenged by those of us who knew different?

    Personally I’m very very glad that Disney was so discomfited.

  10. Bob Smith

    Any writer who claims Mark Day is a ‘distinguished media commentator’ has no credibility.
    Mark Day is nothing more than a propagandist for Murdoch. Try reading Day’s articles in the Australian on the phone hacking scandal in the UK. It was the News Corp line verbatim – one rogue reporter etc etc.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details