San Francisco’s Proposed Blog Law

The Personal Democracy Forum is reporting that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will be voting on a local law that requires “local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate.”

The author of the piece claims that the city ordinance will require all online pages “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.”

However, not everyone agrees that this vote is as anti-blogger as it first sounds. Chris Nolan believes that while the law is poorly written, the core idea is sound that bloggers who receive money from a local candidate to write about them on their site should be compelled to openly disclose those payments to the local election board, and that they should be treated like any other commercial outlet receiving money to promote a candidate, rather than simply free press.

From reading these sites, it certainly appears to be a nasty little mess brought on by recent elections in which blogs and other online forums played a key role in the results. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially since national politics made good use of similar blogs in the last presidential election and how little regulation there is separating the honest protection of freedom of speech from paid-for online political mouthpieces.

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