Sunday, April 3, 2005

San Francisco to regulate political blogging?

On slashdot we have an article claiming that San Francisco is going to regulate blogging. Namely, that a new ordinance would require bloggers to register with the city Ethics commission. This follows on the heels of a couple reports that the Federal Election Commission wants to regulate blogging. Fortunately in the San Francisco case the claim is overblown.

The source is a posting on the Personal Democracy Forum, San Francisco May Regulate Blogging which refers to an ordinance filing. Apparently Michael Bassik didn't read the ordinance, or else wishes to blow it out of proportion for some ends of his own.

The ordinance says over and over, that the ones who must register with the city ethics commission are those who are either paying, or receiving money, for electioneering communictions.

How this would apply to a blogger is that if the blogger is writing about candidates in an election. Hence, they would be doing electioneering communications. NOTE that the ordinance doesn't mention blogging by name.

But the ordinance applies only when there is an exchange of money meant to pay for that electioneering communication. Which is very fair, because it is only appropriate that payments for electioneering communications be made clear. When a political message goes out, we ought to know who paid for that message, because part of interpreting a message is knowing who it is that's speaking. This applies to blogging as well as handing leaflets out at the train station, putting door hangers on peoples front doors, running television advertising, and more.