Political Bloggers – Register Or Face Possible Jail Sentence
I tried to read the actual bill WARNING PDF but the legalese is confounding and irritating.
An outfit called GrassRootsFreedom.com is reporting that the U.S. Senate is considering legislation that would require political bloggers with readership over 500 to register as lobbyists. If they fail to register, they could face criminal penalties up to one year in jail.
What I read seemed to indicate that reporting was required only if the organization or blogger was being paid. GrassRoots Freedom reports otherwise:
“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.
Which would likely mean that all political bloggers would be required to register as even the smallest of blogs touches 500 people. The language Grassroots Freedom uses is alarming:
…the Senate will have criminalized the exercise of First Amendment rights. We’d be living under totalitarianism, not democracy.
If something like this were to pass, does that mean that writing an article urging people to vote no on say, Network Neutrality would be sufficient cause, if the blog had readership of over 500 people, to register? What if no calls to action were used and in the time-tested tradition of large newspapers worldwide, bloggers simply wrote slanted articles? Does that qualify as ‘grassroots’ movement?