Unless there is a voluntary code of practice covering blogs and the internet there is "no form of redress", a conference has been told.
The flow of content "should not be regulated by any government"
Press Complaints Commission director Tim Toulmin told a London conference on race: "We're not in favour of regulating the internet. You can't regulate it.
"But unless there is a voluntary code there are no forms of redress. The flow of information should not be regulated by the government."
Mr Toulmin has since clarified that, contrary to the impression given in earlier versions of this report, his comments do not mean that he believes there should be a voluntary code of conduct for the internet.
Mr Toulmin described the phrases "free speech" and "free press" as relative terms because views expressed on the internet are still governed by laws such as libel and data protection.
The Press Complaints Commission enforces a code of practice for the UK newspaper and magazine industry, covering accuracy, discrimination and intrusion, amongst other things.
Members of the public unhappy with coverage can take their complaints to the commission.
Mr Toulmin said this "self-imposed regulation" did offer people a means to complain about coverage, although it "was not the answer to all your problems".
Complaints can already be made about online versions of newspapers and magazines which already subscribe to the PCC code.
But apart from those sites, generally on the internet "there are no professional standards, there is no means of redress", Mr Toulmin said.
He added: "If you want to see how the newspaper industry would look like if it was unchecked, then look at the internet."
He said a voluntary code of practice would allow content to be checked without government involvement, stressing: "We're not in favour of regulating the internet. The flow of information should not be regulated by any government."
Former Downing Street spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who chaired the session organised by the Commission for Racial Equality, said blogs were "perceived as a positive development" but added that "some of the most offensive stuff" comes from them.
A recent survey by blog tracking firm Technorati suggested that every day 100,000 new blogs are created and 1.3 million things posted.