Feeds

Think Aussie election rules are draconian? Look at the UK's

Unbalanced bloggers must be unmasked

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Commentards looking forward to venting their spleens during the upcoming UK election could found themselves falling foul of rules designed to ensure fair and balanced coverage of the proceedings.

South Australia is to levy fines of $5000 on blog posters and the like who do not disclose their names when commenting on elections - including the one just about around the corner.

Whilst the Aussies law is being condemned as anti-democratic and exceptional, it is worth considering what the law on blog posting is in the UK for the period of a General Election.

El Reg spoke to one returning officer, who outlined current law on what may or may not be published during an election campaign.

This is the period between the moving of the writ for an election and the date of the election itself: a minimum of 17 days, but usually longer.

When it comes to locally distributed print media such as leaflets and free newspapers, only material that is published by a bona fide candidates may comment lawfully on other candidates. The reason for this is that it deters campaigns and pressure groups with an axe to grind and significant amounts of money to burn from waging a covert campaign for or against one candidate and influencing the outcome of an election without ever being subject to the fairly strict rules of expenditure allowed in general elections.

In extreme cases, "pressure groups" could be little more than a means whereby one candidate got round the spending limits.

Legitimate election material must also carry an imprint showing clearly who it is published by and who has printed it: failure to do so is an offence. Again, the reasoning behind this law is the prevention of shadow campaigns moving into particular constituencies to swing the result whilst evading spending limits.

There are special rules governing national press and broadcast media: local newspapers, where they cover election campaigns, must do so in a balanced fashion.

So what about blogs? There is at least a good argument that the rules governing locally printed material would also apply to blogs that argued strongly for or against one candidate: at the very least, the returning officer in a constituency would require that the author of a blog be clearly identified, and contactable in the case of a complaint.

However, if the print rules are applied strictly to blogging, then the UK position is already a good deal more draconian than the Aussie one, as partisan blogs could well be unlawful - at least for the duration of the election period.

Facebook Groups such as "I'm backing so-and-so for such-and-such constituency" could also be questionable.

Our tame returning officer did not have a definitive answer. After searching through his election regs, he decided that there was no guidance on it ñ and he would be putting an alert out on to the returning officers' forum, to see if the issue had come up anywhere else.

When we get an answer, we'll let you know: watch this space! ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.