In public, the establishment talks about “press regulation”, in the small print, its demands are much broader and very modern: it wants Web regulation.
The regulator will cover ‘relevant publishers’. If they do not pay for its services and submit to its fines and rulings, or set up their own regulatory body, they could face exemplary damages in the courts. It is not just the old (and dying) newspapers, which the state defines as ‘relevant publishers’ but ‘websites containing news-related material’.
What ‘news-related’ material can get you into trouble? It turns out to be the essential debates of a free society. Dangerous topics to write about include ‘news or information about current affairs’ and ‘opinion about matters relating to the news or current affairs’. Any free country should would want the widest possible discussion of news and allow the largest possible range of opinions about current affairs. As of tonight, Britain does not.