Prince Harry’s naked outing on the front page of today’s Sun has already prompted 60 complaints to the Press Complaints Commission about a breach of the Prince’s privacy. It also illustrates the problem facing Lord Leveson as he prepares to make his recommendations on the future of press regulation.
The Sun’s editorial, which it published alongside the now infamous picture on its front page, argues that it was perfectly reasonable to defy the warnings from the Royal Family’s legal team not to print the snaps which have been circulated across the globe via the internet. The piece says:
It is absurd that in the internet age newspapers like The Sun could be stopped from publishing stories and pictures already seen by millions on the free-for-all that is the web.
Regardless of whether it is in the public interest to publish these pictures of the third in line to the throne, the current system of regulation ignores the fact that suppressing publication in print does not stop millions of people seeing or reading the material in question. The internet is a wild frontier where anything goes, while the press (mostly) submit to a system designed for a pre-online era. The challenge for Leveson is to devise a framework that is sensitive to this, rather than pretending websites like TMZ, which first published the Harry pictures, do not exist.