16 Mar '11, 4pm
Online campaigning: more freedom to shoot oneself in the foot
The liberalisation of online campaigning rules raises intriguing questions about the upcoming polls. At one level, the move merely acknowledges the new realities, as Alex Au of Yawning Bread told the Today newspaper. But, so much more space is being opened up for legitimate use that one is bound to ask: What’s the catch? The obvious catch is that this is a liberalisation of so-called prior restraints (rules that shut you up before you've had a chance to say anything) but doesn’t necessarily represent any easing in post-publication punishments (getting you for what you actually say). Parties would be unwise to assume that defamation law , in particular, will be any less relevant in Campaign 2011. The government does not accept that the cut and thrust of campaigning is an excuse for politicians to sully opponents' reputations with allegations that they can’t prove in court. ...