Ah, the perils of blogging. A little while back I blogged about the Government’s failure to use its existing legal powers to clarify how imprint rules for election leaflets apply to online campaigning, such as emails or YouTube videos. Got a bit of traffic, a few comments and an MP (Lynne Featherstone) decided to put in a written question in Parliament. And that was that.
But then… an eagled-eyed BBC reporter spotted my post and decided there was a story in it. Cue two stories today on the BBC website:
With a general election on the horizon, there are concerns that the laws are ill-equipped for the new digital battlefields that the campaign will be fought on …
Current laws give ministers the power, subject to Parliamentary approval, to draw up specific rules for non-printed material but, nine years on, they have yet to do so.
In its most recent guidance, the Electoral Commission said candidates should as “a matter of good practice” include imprint details on their campaign websites.
But candidates are not required to do so and the watchdog advised ministers in 2003 to look at the issue, arguing candidates need to be equally accountable in all different mediums.
The Electoral Commission has said it will not be able to police the expected explosion in spoof internet videos at the next general election.
Some experts believe unattributed videos on YouTube and e-mails could be used to spread false information.
And now, bugger, I’ve been landed with some homework courtesy of Tom Watson MP:
I’m going to write to Jack Straw to ask him to sort it out. It strikes me that between us, we could knock up a set of guidelines quite quickly. I nominate Mark to get the ball rolling with a draft. Anyone else got ideas?