12 Dec 2011

New media regulator could cover digital publishers

11:07 am on 12 December 2011

The Law Commission has suggested online news services and bloggers should be regulated by a new authority, which would also cover traditional print and broadcast media.

Former Justice Minister Simon Power ordered a Law Commission review in October last year after a blogger, Cameron Slater, was convicted of breaching name suppression orders on his website.

The review, which was co-authored by the Law Commissioner John Burrows, says most news organisations run websites which need to be regulated in the same way traditional media are.

Mr Burrows says the authority could also grant bloggers rights enjoyed by traditional media, like the privilege to cover court and parliamentary proceedings.

It would merge the existing Broadcasting Standards Authority, which regulates broadcasters, and the Press Council, which regulates print media, into a combined organisation independent of the Government and the industry.

Mr Burrows says the review is also promoting a new tribunal which could stop people publishing intimate photographs, maliciously impersonating someone or inciting suicide over the internet.

The Law Commission is also asking people to say what standards they expect of the news media.

It wants feedback on whether laws related to harassment, intimidation, defamation and breach of privacy are fit for purpose in the digital age.