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Comments by YACCS
Monday, April 04, 2005

Here they go again

Why is she an enemy of free speech?

SF tries to restrict bloggers
by kos
Mon Apr 4th, 2005 at 08:56:25 PST

It's not just the FEC bloggers need to worry about. Local governments will likely try to get into the act, as this ridiculous San Francisco effort proves.

Just when you thought the Federal Election Commission had it out for the blogosphere, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors took it up a notch and announced yesterday that it will soon vote on a city ordinance (PDF) that would require local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate.

Blogs that mention candidates for local office that receive more than 500 hits will be forced to pay a registration fee and will be subject to website traffic audits, according to Chad Jacobs, a San Francisco City Attorney.

The entire Board is set to vote on the measure on April 5th, 2005. I wonder if they'll be forced to register their own blogs!

The legislation was written by Supervisor Sophie Maxwell.

If this ordinance passes, I will be the first to flash Sophie Maxwell and San Francisco a big middle finger. But if we make enough noise, it may not come down to that.

Sophie Maxwell
(415) 554-7670 - voice
(415) 554-7674 - fax

Note, this won't be the last such effort. But the more pain we inflict, the less likely other governments will be to try to regulate free speech on the Internet.

Whether this ordinance is a poorly worded honest mistake, or whether its a deliberate attack on citizen media, it cannot be allowed to stand.

In yet another threat from the dim and stupid, Kos got to read this over his cornflakes. Lucky for him, he lives in Berkeley, but still this is so goddamn stupid, so braindead, that it boggles the mind.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances

So why, exactly, is some second rate pol in SF trying to abridge the constitution? What exactly is the goal here? Are they trying to force people who occasionally comment on politics to have to register? So when do the newspapers register and have their sales audited.

When they decided the CDA, I thought it was clear that the Internet was like books and newspapers and not TV. So why are pols trying to regulate what people say about them?

This is coming up tomorrow so I suggest that you mailbomb the good supervisor with helpful suggestions on why this law is well, a bad idea. Calling her wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Be polite, but ask her why she is willing to violate the US constitution and cost the city hundreds of thousands in law suits and untold bad publicity.

Like this:

Dear Supervisor Maxwell,

Why did you propose this ordinance?

Surely, you are aware any such legislation will face a vigorous and intense legal campaign to get it overturned. While your intention may be to limit the use of blogs to defame candidates for local office, the effect would be to either force bloggers to not discuss local politics or face burdensome requirement to exercise free speech. The 500 hit limit is absolutely ridiculous. I get that in 15 minutes some days. Daily Kos gets that in one minute. And the requirement of a registration fee is grossly unfair. Are you expecting the retired, handicapped and underaged to pay this fee.

I think you did not discuss this with people who actually understand blogging and how it works. Anyone can create a blog and they can do it from any location. People could simple go to Oakland or Berkeley and set up a blog and escape the city ordinance. All this ordidnance would do is create a legal battle for the city while doing nothing to prevent what you seem to fear.

I can assure you that people would rather pay $2,000 for a lawyer to sue the city that $1,000 to exercise their First Amendment rights.

As a New Yorker, I can assure you this proposed ordinance has already gained nationwide attention and will be opposed by people from around the world, not just the United States.

What is even more surprising is that this ordinance is being proposed in advance of any problem with blogs in campaigns, to in effect, cure a problem which does not exist.

I would hope you would withdraw this ordinance from consideration, before the city faces extensive and ongoing litigation.


Steve Gilliard
Steve Gilliard's News Blog
New York, NY

posted by Steve @ 7:18:00 PM

7:18:00 PM

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