‘PN government will repeal proposed Media Act’ – De Marco

Nationalist Party deputy leader calls on government to discuss proposal to include four Constitutional amendments to guarantee digital rights.

Mario De Marco:
Mario De Marco: "We need more freedoms, not more restrictions"

The press law reform as proposed by Government was unacceptable and a Nationalist Party government would repeal the law if it is enacted as proposed, PN deputy leader Mario de Marco said on Wednesday.

He was speaking at a press conference held at the Parliament building in Valletta, with party communications spokesman Clyde Puli.

De Marco said the opposition will propose changes to prevent the registration of websites and ensure the protection of sources to everyone. 

On the four digital rights proposed by the opposition, he said these were more relevant than ever following the government's proposal to register online sites in the draft Media and Defamation Act.

“It's totally unacceptable to have Facebook pages or personal blogs which include commentary on politics and current affairs registered," he said.

De Marco added that government was now saying that the registration could be optional or not apply at all in certain circumstances.

He said this arbitrary interpretation of the law was dangerous because the law was vague and did not clearly define what should be registered.

"We need more freedoms not more restrictions, " he added.

Insisting that registration was an archaic tool, de Marco said that the law should not make a distinction between online and print media in terms of registration.

According to the draft law, moral damages in a court of law for defamation will increase to €20,000 from the current €11,000 and de Marco said this was excessive and should not increase given that the maximum damages are rarely imposed.

Two years ago the PN tabled a private member’s bill proposing the inclusion of the right to internet access, the right to access information, the right to disseminate information and the right to informational self-determination.

However the bill has not yet been discussed in parliament and de Marco called for an immediate debate on the bill.