January 19, 2007

Free Speech? For Bloggers? Pshaw!

Has anyone else yet heard of section 220 of S.1 now working its way through Congress? Here is the text of the bill.

What should worry bloggers are the following provisions:

1) (B) PAID ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE THE THE GENERAL PUBLIC OR SEGMENTS THEREOF - The term "paid attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof" does not include an attempt to influence directed at less than 500 members of the general public.

My emphasis. Read that again. You don't have to be paid -- but if you attempt to influence the public and you reach more than 500 people, then you'd be in violation. And how exactly is that "500" determined? Is this a daily total for bloggers? Monthly? Annually? As of this writing, Colossus has over 55,000 page views (since we signed up for Sitemeter). We certainly advocate on behalf of candidates when the time arises. Would we be in violation? More on violations in a sec.

2) (18) PAID EFFORTS TO STIMULATE GRASSROOTS LOBBYING- (A) IN GENERAL- The term "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" means any paid attempt in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client to influence the general public or segments thereof to contact one or more covered legislative or executive branch officials (or Congress as a whole)

Bloggers who meet the "over 500" criteria would have to report to ... Congress!! (Or, some official thereof.)

3) "On January 9, the Senate passed Amendment 7 to S. 1, to create criminal penalties, including up to one year in jail, if someone 'knowingly and willingly fails to file or report.'

Don't report to Congress (or some official thereof)? You could spend up to one year in jail!!

Mark Fitzgibbons of GrassrootsFreedom.com says

"Thousands of nonprofit leaders, bloggers, and other citizens have hammered the Senate with calls in opposition to Section 220, which seeks to silence the grassroots. The criminal provisions will scare citizens into silence.

"The legislation regulates small, legitimate nonprofits, bloggers, and individuals, but creates loopholes for corporations, unions, and large membership organizations that would be able to spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars, yet not report."

Hey! Guess who introduced S.1? None other than new Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

However, Utah Senator Robert Bennett (R) (with the support of the ACLU) has introduced the "Bennett Amendment" to S.1 which would strike section 220 from the bill. Be sure to head over to GrassrootsFreedom.com now and show your support for Bennett's amendment.

UPDATE: First State Politics' Dave Burris notes in the comments that the Bennett Amendment passed the other night. Victory!

Posted by Hube at January 19, 2007 03:21 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

The Bennett amendment passed last night.

Posted by: FSP at January 19, 2007 05:37 PM