Lawless portalsThe power of the market was turned over to retailers from manufacturers a long time ago. With their enormous purchasing power, large discount stores are now increasing their profits by squeezing the manufacturers.
The same phenomenon is visible in the market for information content.
A considerable portion of the population gets its news from Internet portal sites. Portals rework content through their own editorial processes and thereby create significant added value.
Portals exercise enormous power in forming public opinion, as we have seen in the recent demonstrations against imports of U.S. beef.
However, portals insist that they only circulate information.
Online, the distinction between information producer and information consumer, and between the supply and circulation of content, has become vague. Portals should frankly acknowledge their social influence and significance. It is absurd that they deny even the minimum of responsibility, saying “We are not the media.”
If that is really the case, we should consider why the courts hold portals responsible for overlooking misleading news articles or malicious postings on the Internet.
Portals have come up with countermeasures to negate side effects. Some sites have introduced links that connect to media sites when online visitors click on articles.
Some portals are outsourcing part of their editorial rights to individual users or to the media. However, we acknowledge that demonizing all portals is not helpful, since they are important institutions in society.
What we need is for them to exercise discipline in accordance with the level of influence they undoubtedly have.
They cannot continue to hide behind a structural blind spot where the application of the law is at times unclear.
There have been attempts, in fact, to prepare legal standards for portals to use. Last year, the Grand National Party and the United Democratic Party tried to establish relevant laws, but to no avail.
Unfortunately, we cannot wait to bring portals, which are not covered by regulations, within the bounds of the law.
Freedom of speech is important, but individual rights and social stability are also important values.
These should not be overlooked. Content is often free on the Internet, but that shouldn’t mean that there are no legal restraints.