Thursday, January 18, 2007

Government Registration Of Bloggers?

Well, we knew the day had to come when they would require us to register for one thing or another, but who would have thought it would be for exercising our right to speak freely? Politicians are posed to pass Senate Bill 1, (go figure that this particular piece of crap would be the first thing they attempted to ramrod through) in an attempt to further muzzle free speech in this country. This particular bill would require bloggers who communicate with at least 500 people to register and make quarterly reports to the Congress. Those who choose to be refuseniks may well face fines and/or jail time.
“Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to 500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220 would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history, critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself.
“The bill would require reporting of ‘paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying,’ but defines ‘paid’ merely as communications to 500 or more members of the public, with no other qualifiers.
“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.’
While there is currently an amendment out there to remove section 220 from the bill, it should be noted that one of the bills sponsors is involved with that. Knowing politicians as we do I can only assume that he would rather see his bill passed than amended out of existence.

Those of us who belong to or are even on the mailing lists of an organisation which may lobby Congress will likely find ourselves behind the 8-ball on this one. And, lest some think this is solely the hideous stepchild of the leftists in Congress, I'd urge you to look at the list of co-sponsors. This crosses back and forth across the party lines in an almost orgiastic disregard for freedom, liberty and our rights. When you see both Trent Lott and Diane Feinstein on the same bill you know that there is truly no difference between the "two parties" and that you are well and truly screwed. Those so-called "libertarians" who think that siding with Republicans because "we" are more like them than the left had best check their premises.

Of course the Leftists have yet to raise a cry over this. Wonder what Kos and MoveOn think about this? Probably loving it, since it "can't possibly apply to them". Heh...maybe they should check their history books and call up the ghosts of some of their Marxist forefathers.

Will this be the final straw for libertarians and others? Doubtful, given the previous depredations foisted upon us. It'll likely be business as usual until people are hauled away to some Halliburton built kampf and most people won't even raise an eyebrow. Then again, bloggers may just surprise me and break out their torches, pitchforks and nooses. I'm not going to hold my breath, tho even if blue doesn't look all that bad on me. I wonder what colour star they'll make us wear?

UPDATE: Section 220 was amended out of existence by a Senate vote of 55-43 (all 43 were Democrats and were the "usual" suspects such as Kennedy, Biden, Rockefeller, Byrd, Boxer, Obama, Kerry, etc...). There is always a chance that the House could "re-invent" section 220 or that El Presidente' could add a signing statement to replace it. The government is unlikely to rest until the people who blog are reined in.

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Mike Kole said...

I don't expect the Left to raise even a tiny squawk, against this crap, or against the proposed reintroduction of the badly misnamed 'Fairness Doctrine'.

Before discovering libertarian philosophy, I self-identified as a Democrat because I felt they spoke for me on free speech issues when I was a teen. Along came Tipper Gore and the PMRC, and my faith was shattered. In time I started looking clearly and carefully and learned that Democrats are no friends of free speech, especially if it suits them.

As to bloggers like Kos. Shoot- he'll have volunteers lining up to do his paperwork for him. But if he hasn't commented on this as an outrage, he isn't going to comment. Dems have long adopted the idea that government's hand and imprint should be on every area of life. They'll even explain it away along the lines that free speech isn't being curtailed if you register and play ball.

Total bullshit, this bill.

Sunni said...

It's my understanding that section 220 was removed. Even though I've been thinking about this for a few days now, I just can't muster a lot of energy over it—I simply don't see how the gov could implement it. Wouldn't moving one's site to an offshore server dodge the entire issue?

I'm almost wishing my site were popular enough to come under this stupidity ...

Michael said...

Section 220 was removed via amendment, but I have little faith that it wouldn't be put back in place in a Senate version, given their propensity for totalitarianism. While it looks like folks like us wouldn't have to worry about legislation like this I have no doubt that the fed wouldn't just look at site meter stats and say "Oh, they've had 500 hits so they have 500 readers and need to register."

As for implementation...I could foresee a department of blogger affairs with an enforcement arm. Government love to expand itself, as we have seen time and again. Cancer tends to work that way.

Fortunately, it looks to be dead for the moment and I hope it remains that way.

Michael said...

That should say "House version", not Senate version...lack of caffeine is killing me.

The vote on this came down just like you'd expect, too, Mike. The 43 in favour of it were the usual suspects.
Akaka (D-HI)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Mike Kole said...

Michael, the only saving grace with so many of these bills is that they do die. Problem is, they only die for a short while. Often they come back, and when they do, they tend to fare better in terms of passage. 41 Ds and 2 Is. Well, that's why I left the Democrats.