Political disinformation has become dangerous and unacceptable

Further evidence has been emerging in the last few days of an undermining of democratic processes in the UK and elsewhere as the UK Select Committee , the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, reported on political disinformation and “fake news”. This report underlines previous posts in this blog on what can be described as potentially illegal or at best ethically questionable activities to influence voting. The charge sheet keeps … Read more

Data manipulation and the murky world of political advertising

Recent investigative journalism has shone a bright light on the murky world of digital data mining and political advertising. A US-UK company, Cambridge Analytica, with an off-shoot the Canadian firm Aggregate IQ, have been found to have mined huge quantities of personal profiles on Facebook and turned the data into a means for highly personal and psychologically targeted political advertising that some consider could have helped swing elections in marginal … Read more

Are Trump and Brexit two sides of a hard-right anti-democratic take-over bid?

Are Trump and Brexit two sides of a hard-right anti-democratic take-over bid? One has to ask the question, since in the pursuit of power and influence both groups seem to be using questionable techniques that could lead one to wonder quite where this is going. In the US there is an ongoing probe by the FBI-appointed special prosecutor Mueller into whether the Trump campaign indulged in illegal activities in collaboration … Read more

Is press freedom at risk from commercial interests?

Readers of The Daily Telegraph will have awoken this morning to find that their chief political journalist Peter Oborne has resigned in protest at what he regards as editorial subservience to commercial interest and to the owners, the Barclay Brothers, over under-reporting of the Swiss HSBC scandal. He says that there was a concern that the paper would lose vital advertising revenue and thus journalistic freedom, the truth and press … Read more

The price of a free press can be uneasy choices

As the last-minute late night deal between political leaders and Hacked Off sinks in amongst publishers and people consider whether to sign up to the yet-to-be-finalised regime of press regulation, people have been pointing out the crucial confusion that lies at the heart of the proposal. The use of legislation to support the device of the Royal Charter to set up regulation seems to make no distinction between the various … Read more

Press regulation and unintended consequence of a new UK constitution?

As the dust settles a little from the crisis over press regulation, Britain’s journalists have been contemplating the implications of the system devised between the leaders of the major parties in the small hours of 18 March. There has also been a steady stream of concerned criticism from overseas. The enormity of what has been agreed is beginning to sink in and, just maybe, bringing forward some major unintended consequences. … Read more

How do we balance freedom of expression with press intrusion?

The current state of confusion over press regulation here in the UK presents me with a very useful opportunity to start this blog – the attempts by politicians to come up with a model of regulation that meets the assumed need for reform and also satisfies the various scruples about freedom of expression. One could choose to start a blog at any time but what is so good about this … Read more