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

Well, by conduit I would refer to an internet service provider, BT, Virgin, and so on. A host, examples would be Facebook, YouTube, et cetera. Search engines would be a particular type of host. But they all have different parts to play.

What I would say around a host is that you need to find a method that if you're going to make the host responsible for something, that does not make them the new arbiter of right and wrong. This is a major concern around private regulation, that if we say that it is up to YouTube to take things down without the proper process in place, then what stays up is not what should stay up, but those who have the legal strength to argue back, or indeed you have a problem of smaller hosts taking down material when there might actually be a legal case to keep it up, but they are afraid of the cost of the legal action and so on.

This has been a big part of the debates on libel reform and there have been a number of suggestions around rapid responses, mediation, temporary take down, put back up again, and they are important because if we say that online is an opportunity to speak but then we hand that control over, we may have a future inquiry where rather than talking about the power of the editor of the Daily Mail and the Sun, we are talking about the powers of Internet intermediaries. So there is a danger there.

But certainly they can have a part to play in regulation. We see this, for example, with ISPs around the -- their obligations to carry your traffic. The old-fashioned idea of a common carrier, you take anyone who comes to you in return for a certain degree of protection from legal action. To me, those two issues go very closely together. If you want immunity, then there may be public service obligations associated with that.

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