Friday, September 28, 2007

An injury to all

Many of our inalienable rights as expressed in the first ten amendments to the U.S. constitution are under attack here, but at least they're still in place as aspirational standards. And in practice, the First Amendment seems to be widely exercised and honored.

The citizens of the U.K. aren't quite so fortunate. They operate under libel laws that give those rich enough to bring court cases the tools to silence the less powerful. That happened early this month to two prominent British bloggers:

Craig Murray's website, Tim Ireland's website Bloggerheads, and that of Councillor Bob Piper, have been pulled by their service provider, Fasthosts Internet Ltd of Gloucester. The reason? Allegations made about Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov. (... a number of websites, including Bob Piper's..., were removed even though they said nothing about this topic, simply because they shared a server with Craig Murray and Tim Ireland. Fasthosts' conduct is predictable, but also a disgrace).
[Usmanov] has employed the libel lawyers, Schillings, who have applied pressure to service providers to pull the websites in question - before a single thing has been tested in court.

The good news is that the incident has generated a large show of support from across the ideological spectrum of Brit blogs, and the beginnings of an effort to change the libel law at long last. Follow the developments at Tim Ireland's new site.

I'm a little surprised to have heard nothing about this controversy over here; I ran across it completely by accident while following a search link to Lenin's Tomb. Pointers to U.S. blog coverage welcomed; so far the only one I know of is here.

Spread the word.

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At 9:43 PM, September 28, 2007, Blogger janinsanfran said...

Glad you followed up on this. I've been collecting the info, but not sure how to explain to people here. You've encouraged me to take a shot later tonight.

Hundreds of Brit blogs are trumpeting Mr. Usmanov's demerits -- he took on the wrong crew!


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