The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I think certainly somebody who is going to be working in an online environment, they do face different challenges. The impact of what is published may also vary. There are also great opportunities. For example, material published online provides the opportunity to provide direct links to source material. You can say, "Here is my comment on this and here is a link to the data on which it is based, you can go and check it for yourself". There was mention this morning of right of reply as well.

So there are certainly things you can do as well as things to be aware of. The material published online, once circulated, is difficult, as is common knowledge, to remove. If there are attempts to remove material published online, that can in some circumstances be counter-productive because it leads to a principled defence, again a principle that many would question, but a principled defence of circulation of material online, and therefore first publication becomes very important online. We've seen this in contempt of court materials. A photograph up just for a couple of hours can lead to serious contempt proceedings.

So there are differences there. Now, it is important to try and identify a common core of standards, take the point that many laws are of general application, and I find this, and I've committed to this in talks and publications on a number of other occasions, I do find it disturbing that sometimes we still talk about the law not mattering online. I think even a number of esteemed witnesses, not today but on other days of the Inquiry, have suggested there is a large gap between old and new media.

There may be enforcement challenges, as has been rightly said, you may need to think about whether the legal framework is adequate or indeed whether you are going about it the right way, but we are well into an age where law does apply online. There are people in prison for offences that have been committed with use of a computer or publication of material online.

So I think there's a fear sometimes that even discussion on this gets the wrong end of the stick, to say that because law can't apply online we must, for example, change how we treat the old media --

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