US Government Wants US Bloggers to Register

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Legislation has been proposed in US Congress to enact a law requiring US bloggers with 500+ readers to register with Congress. Via GrassRootsFreedom.com:

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.

News.com says the legislation can be viewed here.

Also reported on theInquirer.net, 911 Blogger, and InformationWeek.com .

Comments

For my readers at congressionalclowns93338483.blogspot.com

I'm against this on sooooo many levels. Yet another example of how elected officials on both sides of the fence are bat shiat crazy; can you imagine them trying to enforce this?

I'd like to know how they intend to know which blogs we do and do not run; want to keep behind privacy reg perhaps for those with custom installs?

So if I run an adult poker blog with over 500 members, I might have some 'splainin to do. Tempting.

Cygnus

...hmmm, how can I describe my thoughts...

Even though I'm Canadian, the following springs to mind...

...bwhahahahaha!

They are joking, right?

Grassroots folks seem to be muddying the waters

defines ‘paid’ merely as communications to 500 or more members of the public, with no other qualifiers

No, no, no! It doesn't define paid as that at all. In fact, what this section does is exempt paid lobbyists trying to influence less than 500 people:

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.

"Paid" is defined as:

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...

Now, for the matter that the News story brought up:

But one section says that certain political bloggers who make or spend $25,000 per quarter and who encourage readers to contact their elected representatives would be forced to register as lobbyists--or face up to 10 years in prison.

Well, they seemed to have missed one important point plus an and.

GRASSROOTS LOBBYING FIRM.—The term ‘grassroots lobbying firm’ means a person or entity that—

‘‘(A) is retained by 1 or more clients to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf of such clients; and

‘‘(B) receives income of, or spends or agrees to spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts in any quarterly period.’’.

As DG found yesterday, the legalese is definitely confounding and irritating, so I might have a completely wrong read on it. However, to me, this does appear to be aimed at professional lobbyists and influencers, not the average Janes and Joes with opinionated blogs.

if passed, i would expect

if passed, i would expect the most immediate impact will be on grassroots fund raising, i.e. fund raising done via blogs. conventional tin foil hat ideology would suggest that creating a system to control blog-based fund raising will help those already in power control how funds are raised through new fund raising methods, i.e. the blogosphere.

perhaps the more pious of tin foil hats will interpret this as a means to stifle dissent and free speech.

This has nothing directly to

This has nothing directly to do with fundraising, and is not specifically aimed at blogs (as some folks seem to think).

This is about disclosure. Simply put, if you are being paid to lobby or influence ya' gotta' tell people.

Does anybody around here read source documents?

and the need for disclosure

and the need for disclosure is because.....

The Land of the Free ?

The Land of the Free ?

I love my country...

... but im getting sick of this shit., really. The beauty of the Internet was the freedom. Now that the Internet is Big Business. Everyone is out to make their money, whether is be lawsuits of copyright infringements, or frivolous slander lawsuits. Maybe its just better to unplug and go into gardening or something.

Outrage

This is literally an outrage.. if I am going to 'register' with Uncle Sam... then I want Uncle Sam to provide me with press passes and treat me with the same respect that they treat the News Papers and other Media Outlets.

And..

...provide me with protecting my right to say whatever the f*%# i want. (in reason)

well...

Cant we all just put on all of our blogs. * This is for entertainment purposes only * .. lol

Founder, why would you have

Founder, why would you have to register?

For jimbeetle

I own a few blogs and a forum that each have well over 500 users per day.... and some of them are political in nature.

lobbying laws aren't broken...

it's that legislators don't follow them. think of all the latest scandals, none of them were the result of someone bending some rule... they were the result of someone breaking them outrageously. this is a freaking joke.

Am I the only one

who read what Jim wrote? If you are getting paid by a politician or company to attempt to influence the political process, you are a lobbyist, and you must disclose that fact. If you are simply writing about your own personal beliefs, you are not a lobbyist. Why is that so confusing?

Read Slashdot

This provision of the bill was defeated today in the Senate, 57 - 43. Sadly, all 43 who voted in favor were Democrats.

What Greg said. I think

What Greg said.

I think it's fair, if a blogger is a lobbyist, that readers be so advised.

It's all about politics and disclosure.

IW backing away

Well, at least one "news" source has backed away from story.

The initial report by GrassRootsFreedom.com is, quite simply, false.

That would have been obvious if IW bothered to check it's facts before writing the story.

Via DG

A little bit of Animal Farm here

All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

come on guys...

they'd have to list all the blogs somewhere, right? Yay! Finally, a .gov link. ;-)

Amendment I

Congress cannot "abridge" free speech, per the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The political parties are trying to gain control of alternative media sources not under their control.
They are targetting the web and radio. Those that don't understand the workings of politics can stay in the bliss of denial.

Founder

I own a few blogs and a forum that each have well over 500 users per day.... and some of them are political in nature.

So? What does that by itself have to do with anything? Are you blogging on behalf of a client? Is a client paying you to influence people?

Having over 500 users or readers a day -- or 5,000 or 50,000 -- when you are exercising your own right to free speech, isn't part of the argument. The basis of the whole mishmash is that you must have a client and be acting on the client's behalf in trying to influence people in order to be subject to the registration requirements.

In simple example form this is what the bill was trying to regulate:

  • You visit my blog, widgets-are-dangerous-to-students-use-sprockets-instead.org
  • I have hundreds of pages of commentary citing "studies" that show that widets used in school construction are dangerous to the health of our kids.
  • I have another few hundred pages citing "studies" that show replacing widgets with sprockets would be much more beneficial to the health of the kids.
  • I urge my blog readers to contact their representatives and urge them to support the bill that would make it mandatory -- and, even better, at government expense -- to replace all widgets with sprockets.

And in all that, I happen to neglect to say that I am being paid to influence you by the Sprocket Manufacturers Association, my client.

It's about disclosure, that you have a client that is paying you to say what you say.

And the biggest problem is that there are hundreds of these "grassroots" organizations out there that really ain't grass roots. They were founded and are financed by the "interests that be."

Let's take "The People for the Ethical Treatment of Widgets." Is this a true grassroots organization? Nah! It was financed by the widget manufacturers in response to the sproket folks.

If you do some digging behind what is seemingly a "people's" organization you often find a lot of unseemly stuff.

These are the folks who should get your dander up.

And let's not forget that this bill was not aimed at "bloggers." I have a feeling that the folks at Grassroots threw that in because they knew most folks in the blogosphere would not go back to the source document and would simply and ignorantly repeat Grassroots "stance".

They were right.

S.1 Passed the Senate without the grassroots provisions.

Apparently the Senate approved S.1 by a 96-2 Senate vote on the evening of the 18th but according to DownsizeDC the grassroots regulations were voted out of the bill prior to passage by a margin of 55 to 43. "This is a major victory for the 1st Amendment, for Downsize DC, for our coalition partners, and for small grassroots groups all across the political spectrum." says Jim Babka. The Senate was bombarded with emails and phone calls in support of Amendment 20 that apparently had an impact.

how do you know...

hrm...

So... if you were a blogger, had a nemesis ... you could create 500 email addresses, sign up for their feed and/or newsletter, or what not then force your nemesis to register... Brilliant!

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