Faced with withering criticism, the Republicans in Florida hope to crush critical reviews and discourse in the blogosphere by forcing Florida bloggers and web writers to register and report their activity to the state.
I typically do not focus on political content. However this proposed bill stabs right at the heart of our Representative Democracy a free and open press. This includes publishing of discourse by those not in the main stream media. Lets take a look at what Florida is trying to do to bloggers on the right and left.
Republican’s Far-Reaching Bill Ignores First Amendment of US Constitution
Taking a page out of China’s website registration requirements, Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) of Florida wants bloggers who write about Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and other officials of the executive or legislative branches of Florida to register with the state or risk fines.
The Republicans in the Florida State Legislature is proposing a new law that will require bloggers who write about elected state officers to register with the appropriate office within five days of their first post and report any compensation received for their writing. The law applies to websites or webpages frequently updated with opinion, commentary, or business content, known as blogs. However, websites of newspapers or other similar publications are excluded from the regulation.
Prior Restraint Against Paid Political Posts
According to the bill, a “blogger” is defined as any person who submits a blog post to a blog, which is subsequently published. Compensation includes anything of value given to a blogger in exchange for a blog post or series of posts. If not provided in currency, it must be the fair market value of the item or service exchanged.
Bloggers must file monthly reports on the 10th day following the end of each calendar month from when a blog post is added to the blog. The reports must be filed with the appropriate office using the electronic filing system provided by s. 11.0455 if the blog post concerns an elected member of the Legislature or as provided in s. 112.32155 if the blog post concerns an officer of the executive branch.
Writers Must Report Content to New Florida Politburo
The reports must include information about the individual or entity that compensated the blogger for the blog post, the amount of compensation received, the date the blog post was published, and the website and website address where the blog post can be found. In addition, if the payment is for a series of blog posts or for a defined period of time, the blogger must disclose the total amount to be received upon the first blog post being published.
After that, the blogger must disclose the date or dates additional compensation is received, if any, for the series of blog posts. This new oversight role is akin to political bureaus or executive committees within communist parties. It is present in most former and existing communist states.
A New Commissar For Squishing Political Dissent in Florida
The new law would also allow a magistrate to enter a final order in the determination of the reasonableness of the circumstances for an untimely filing of a required report and the amount of a fine, if any. Each house of the Legislature and the Commission on Ethics shall adopt by rule, for application to bloggers, the same procedure by which lobbyists are notified of the failure to timely file a report and the amount of the assessed fines.
The law aims to increase transparency in the blogosphere and ensure that readers are aware of any compensation bloggers may receive for their posts. If passed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the new regulations will go into effect immediately.
Florida Bloggers & The Culture War Focus of Florida Republicans
There’s a lot of talk about “fake news” these days. But when it comes to the Florida legislature, fake bills are the real story.
These proposed bills are nothing more than an attempt by Republicans to use their new power to push their own agenda, and they’re doing it by attempting to regulate the free speech of bloggers.
What’s really happening here is that DeSantis and the rest of his party are trying to silence the opposition by making it harder for them to publish any real criticism of their actions. This is not only unconstitutional; it’s also incredibly un-American!