Irish IT law expert disses blog rules idea

30 Mar 2007

The chair of lobby group Digital Rights Ireland has dismissed claims that a blogging code of conduct is needed.

TJ McIntyre, who is also a law lecturer in University College Dublin, was speaking in light of death threats posted on the blog of prominent tech blogger Kathy Sierra. The controversy has caused some people in the blogosphere to demand formal blogging rules.

McIntyre said: “You have to be very careful here because every time there is a scandal such as this you hear calls for more regulation, more intervention and more government control.

“There is a ratchet effect whereby incrementally you could see a lot of traditional liberties being lost as a result. I don’t see that one isolated incident provides any sort of justification for anything of the sort,” he added.

Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media and internet trend spotter, has said that a code is needed but hoped that it would emerge through self regulation rather than government intervention.

This is not the first time a code of conduct has been suggested. In 2004, prominent blogger Allan Jenkins drew up a blogging code of ethics, stating on his own blog that “to write, publish and be read is a privilege and responsibility”.

However, McIntyre doesn’t see the need for this “any more than the need for a code of conduct for what people say in their telephone conversations or their letters”.

“A blog is a medium in exactly the same way that paper is a medium and the notion that we have to have a code of conduct or that we have to have any new forms of intrusive State regulation is not one that needs to be taken seriously,” he said.

In contrast to other new-media publications, McIntyre likened blogging to having a conversation. “If somebody says something rude or nasty in a conversation you don’t suddenly hear calls for codes of conduct or state intervention.”

By Marie Boran