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San Francisco Attempts to Regulate Blogging 650

Lawrence Person writes "Forget about theocratic Iran or Communist China; today's report of a political entity trying to regulate blogging comes not from The People's Republic of China, but rather The People's Republic of San Francisco. 'The San Francisco Board of Supervisors [announced] yesterday that it will soon vote on a city ordinance that would require local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate." Worse, this is not an April Fools joke. It seems that 'campaign finance reform' is turning out to be the biggest Trojan Horse in the campaign to regulate free speech. "Are you now or have you ever been a blogger?"" Chris Nolan -- the "not a joke" link above -- is more reserved about the true scope of the proposed law (which would deal with election-related journaling specifically, not most diary-style Web journals), but has little good to say about it.
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San Francisco Attempts to Regulate Blogging

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  • Loyalty Fee? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fembots ( 753724 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:32PM (#12130307) Homepage
    This is only applicable to blogs that mention candidates for local office. So I don't think you have to pay if you're blogging about your dog.

    However, this might give corporates some ideas. For example, if your blogs contain certain movies, music, celebrities, you may have to start paying for the loyalty fee, like what radio stations are doing now.
    • Re:Loyalty Fee? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:18PM (#12130560) Journal
      in other words, you have freedom of speech as long as you don't discuss politics? how long before i get my papers?
      • Re:Loyalty Fee? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by baldass_newbie ( 136609 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:32PM (#12130626) Homepage Journal
        Boy, all the Republicans against this bill pointed out that limiting campaign contributions was tantamount to limiting free speech. (I don't recall any Democrats against this as their two biggest special interests, Unions and the Press, are exempted specifically.)

        Kind of like when Clinton signed the Violence Against Women act allowing prosecutors to dig into a person's private sexual history for background.

        Nothing like the Law of Unintended Consquences, eh?

        And counting down for the modbombing in 3, 2, 1...
        • Re:Loyalty Fee? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by grammar fascist ( 239789 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @01:52AM (#12131202) Homepage
          Nothing like the Law of Unintended Consquences, eh?

          And counting down for the modbombing in 3, 2, 1...


          Wow...you got the modbombing, didn't you?

          Hey moderators: if you don't like what he has to say, reply . The man speaks the truth: it was primarily conservatives who were against McCain-Feingold.

          Why did we all-of-the-sudden forget this around here on Slashdot? Or maybe...those with the mod points want us to forget. Let's not play that game, okay?
      • Re:Loyalty Fee? (Score:5, Informative)

        by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @12:24AM (#12130871)
        in other words, you have freedom of speech as long as you don't discuss politics? how long before i get my papers?

        No. You can't be on the payroll of some politician or otherwise perform electioneering on his behalf without making it public that that's what you're doing.

        Not all speech is protected by the First Amendment. Speech ranges from "I have a dream" to spam. The type of speech that enjoys First Amendment protection is politically protected speech. If you are spending money to sell a product, like turtle wax, that's commercial speech- which is subject to a limited set of restrictions. Examples are when they force pharmaceutical companies to mention the diarrhea and vomiting, or when weight loss ads are forced to put "ADVERTISEMENT" in the footer of real-looking news articles. Restrictions on commercial speech are perfectly constitutional as long as they are reasonable.

        This business with campaigning is treading closer to politically protected speech, and overlapping with it, since the speech is primarily political rather than purely commercial in nature. The controversial campaign finance reform was controversial precisely because it attempted to regulate speech in this domain. But not all political speech is necessarily constitutionally protected political speech- depending on the circumstances, it may have a commercial character. I may be receiving money in response for saying what I'm saying. The campaign finance laws- however you feel about them- were part of an attempt to impose reasonable and legitimate regulation of speech in this domain. One of the main strategies that this legislation took was to enforce full disclosure of the commercial aspects of speech, and to make sure that commercial means were not used to escape political consequences of speech. That's why you hear "I approved this message".

        This ordinance looks like a minor piece of accountability legislation. It says that if you spend more than $1000 in any venue performing electioneering for a candidate, you have to register. This is so that accurate information about election funding can be kept as part of the public record. That is all. This is a restriction in that you are forced to disclose this information to the public, but they're not preventing you from saying anything, and it only applies to the commercial component of your speech.

        This is much ado about nothing. [slashdot.org] Political demonstrations and public gatherings are about the most protected form of political speech there is, but in the United States you have to remain inside designated fenced-in areas or they'll arrest you for leaving your "First Amendment Zone".
        • Not all speech is protected by the First Amendment. Speech ranges from "I have a dream" to spam.

          I have a dream to spam?

          but in the United States you have to remain inside designated fenced-in areas or they'll arrest you for leaving your "First Amendment Zone".

          I have a dream spam in the zone?

          Restrictions on commercial speech are perfectly constitutional as long as they are reasonable.

          I have a resonable dream of prefectly constitutional long spam?

          ...to mention the diarrhea and vomiting, or wh
        • by Julian Morrison ( 5575 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @02:48AM (#12131414)
          The 1st amendment is about freedom of speech, which congress may not abridge, period. Any damn thing you want to say, no ifs ands or buts. So, all the crap about commercial and political speech has basically been tacked on illegally afterward, by a politically compliant judiciary, to allow the FedGov to "regulate" far beyond its defined remit.

          BTW, free speech isn't a right because of the constitution - it's in the constitution because it's a right! (Oh, and guns likewise, might as well mention while I'm already up on the soapbox ;-)
          • The 1st amendment is about freedom of speech, which congress may not abridge, period. Any damn thing you want to say, no ifs ands or buts.

            This is an absolutist view of "free speech" that is actually common on Slashdot, but doesn't make much sense in the real world. Think about what you're saying- any damn thing you want to say, no ifs and or buts. Such an interpretation would permit death threats. It would grant Constitutional protection to bribery and scams. It would undermine verbal contracts. It would
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The liberals can spin this as Bush's fault. I mean, it must be his, right?
    • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:39PM (#12130352)
      point taken. Not all liberals understand liberty, and not all conservatives get conservatism..... coughBUSHcough. ;)

      Actually there is an issue here, and its valid. Its just one of those issues where there is hardly an answer for. Frankly regulating bloggers is a stupid way to get bloggers to disclose their campaign connections.

      The best way to deal with "trojan bloggers" or "trojan talking heads on tv" is to simply investigate them secretly and expose them, and assasinate them publically based on the facts of their doings. If someone has taken money, then expose them the old fashioned way.

      GO YANKS!
      • by Bullfish ( 858648 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:51PM (#12130420)
        The issue at heart is that there are now so many venues to surreptitously flog political viewpoints disguised as something else. If someone thinks they are reading a personal blog with a political viewpoint and it is in fact a paid action on behalf of a candidate, they have a right to know that up front.

        This is happening in many areas and politics is just one. Marketing disguised as objective scientific evidence, etc. I've heard on these boards people dissing the BBC and the CBC because they receive government funds. Yippee, if Fox isn't an organ of republican viewpoint, I don't know what is... so this is really less about free speech and more about truth in advertising.
        • by plague3106 ( 71849 )
          I've been thinking about this alot. Why does it matter if someone actually believes what they are saying, or was just paid to say so?

          More to the point..what is the point of 'campaign fianance reform?' Looking for a serious answer here...what exactly is the problem that is supposed to be solved by it?
          • what is the point of 'campaign fianance reform?' Looking for a serious answer here...what exactly is the problem that is supposed to be solved by it?

            It's to help prevent the stupid and lazy people from making things much worse.

            Most people are too stupid/lazy to actually check things out.

            We're talking about AMERICA.

        • by mpthompson ( 457482 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:42PM (#12130678)
          The issue at heart is that there are now so many venues to surreptitously flog political viewpoints disguised as something else... ...so this is really less about free speech and more about truth in advertising.

          People like you truly scare me. If this issue isn't about free speech (exactly the kind of speech addressed in the first amendment) then I don't know what is.

          The U.S. founding fathers gave citizens some credit for using being able to use their own brain's to figure out and form their own political opinions. However, two centuries later we seem to have reached a point where a substantial segment of our society believe's that raw political opinions are too dangerous and must to be vetted and sanitized through a nanny-state machine before they are fit for the masses. Laws such this are just a start.

          People who support these types of laws must remember they are a double edge sword that can and will cut both ways. Your particular political opinions may be supported for the time being with such laws and those you disagree with suppressed. However, there will come a time when the tables are turned and the same laws you support to silence your foes are used against you and your political allies.

          Our founding fathers had it right. Keep your and governments grubby hands off my free speech. For both my sake and yours.
      • The best way to deal with "trojan bloggers" or "trojan talking heads on tv" is to simply investigate them secretly and expose them, and assasinate them publically based on the facts of their doings. If someone has taken money, then expose them the old fashioned way.

        In practice, it is likely to take weeks, months or years to track the affilitions of a "trojan" (as you put it). By the time you have untangled the web of obfuscation, the election will be well and truly over. And the "trojan" typically won't

    • Re:Let's see how... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ManoMarks ( 574691 )
      I'm actually surprised that there aren't more of these anti-liberal hate rants yet. But let's take a moment and breathe here. One Supervisor in a left-leaning town has proposed a law. Therefore SF will vote on it. It hasn't passed yet, there isn't yet a mass round-up of bloggers, they aren't yet burning the bible and killing babies in City Hall. Bad laws get proposed all the time, and most of the time they get voted down. Chill out.
  • by moofdaddy ( 570503 ) * on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:33PM (#12130311) Homepage
    This is just the start of the wave of blog regulation. A recent appeals court ruling basically said that the internet should be viewed more as a broadcast medium then a print one. The short version of this means that you will start to see a lot of regulations of this kind coming forward. The last I heard there was a similiar issue in front of seattle's board of select man as well.

    Why is it always the seemingly most liberal places that seem to be so conservative on certain issues?
    • >Why is it always the seemingly most liberal places that seem to be so conservative on certain issues?

      what are you talking about?

      the conservtives were 100% against Campaing Finance Reform. Esp. us libertarians.

      Regulation of political speech is about as core to the left-wing of politics as the passing game was to USC last year.

      Look at eveyr single socialist/communist state - every sing one, without fail, regulated speech and ensured that it was politically correct.

      Saying things like nigger, kike, gr
      • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:55PM (#12130449) Homepage Journal
        There's just as much PC on the Right as on the Left, it's just that you're supposed to say (or not say) different things. Nobody in the mainstream media dares to say anything bad about the recently departed Pope, f'rinstance. (This is part of a general, long-running, PC-of-the-Right reverence for religion.) Extremists on both sides will always try to muzzle those with whom they disagree. You can keep believing otherwise if you like, of course ... right up until they take you to the camps.
        • >Nobody in the mainstream media dares to say anything bad about the recently departed Pope, f'rinstance.

          there's a difference between actively, with government help, SILENCEING people who say things against a political correctness, and simply not liking them.

          There is a difference between the government using the force of law to silence someone with any number of 4th Amendment violations, and for the masses to simply be pissed as your ass.

          f'rinstance.. "The Left" at Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, a student
          • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:23PM (#12130582)
            when we didn't like what the Dixie Chicks had to say, we didn't send Janet Reno out to get them

            If "we" means the administration, yes, this is most certainly true, because even this administration recognizes the limits of executive power. However, I have been reading right-wing blogs and news sources for years, and I have consistently seen individual writers advocating, say, treason trials for anti-war protestors. As noxious as I find leftist attempts to ban "hate speech" and the like, on the left only the hardcore commies are advocating shooting people who say things they don't like.

            Generally the Republican politicians themselves are more realistic, aside from the occasional accusation of treason. But it would be a gross exaggeration to state that the GOP rank-and-file supports unfettered free speech.
          • by rhysweatherley ( 193588 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:30PM (#12130613)
            on "The Right" - when we didn't like what the Dixie Chicks had to say, we didn't send Janet Reno out to get them to lay siege to their house longer than it took to take over Baghdad and then light it on fire... we simply stopped listening to the Dixie Chicks and buying their CDs.

            I guess I must have imagined all of those book burnings, removal of the teaching of evolution in schools in favour of creationism, fines against TV networks over Janet Jackson's breast, etc, etc, etc, ...

            The idea that the Right doesn't do this is fanciful in the extreme. The Right is the primary practioner of censorship in the world right now, based on "moral values" that don't hold up to even minimal scrutiny.

            The Left is not blameless, but it has come to terms with its extremist tendancies by putting checks and balances in place to prevent the worst abuses from recurring. The Right doesn't care one whit about checks and balances (witness the recent Shiavo mess).

            • I guess I must have imagined all of those book burnings

              My memories of history only go back so far -- I'm 33 years old. I don't remember any book burnings but I remember lots of talk about them.

              When were the book burnings you didn't imagine? What year? What branch of government was buring the books?

              removal of the teaching of evolution in schools in favour of creationism

              Removing evolution in favor of creationism is anti-free speech but removing creationism in favor of evolution is NOT anti-free spee
              • My memories of history only go back so far -- I'm 33 years old. I don't remember any book burnings but I remember lots of talk about them.When were the book burnings you didn't imagine? What year?

                Start with the American Library Association, here [ala.org]

                What branch of government was buring the books?

                Office of Foreign Assets Control according to this [freenewmexican.com] news story.

                I guess Google is just too hard to use these days.

                • I saw that first one. No government involvement.

                  And the only recent book burnings were to make a political point, not to censor. By the same token, the guys who burn the flag aren't trying to censor the flag, they're making a political statement. Neither burning books nor burning flags is a good idea -- both are, in fact, somewhat silly.

                  Also, buying a book and burning it doesn't violate anyone's free speech.

                  No books burned in the second one. The second one is a real example of something, but it seems
          • f'rinstance.. "The Left" at Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, a student was, by the government of the state of california, told to remove a flyer from a wall because it was offensive, told to write a letter of apology because he offended a couple of easily offendable black folk, and was threatened with expulsion and forfieture of his tuition. That is ACTUAL censorship. That is done by the government against the people with the force of law.

            Something similiar happened to a friend of mine at UCR a few years back.

        • Actually, the "Left" came to like the Pope in the past few yearsfor speaking out against the Iraq war and various policies of the Bush Administration. He also made undeniable contributions to the advancement of freedom in some countries, which is more than the Left or the Right can say for themselves. I don't think it's a PC issue so much as respect for the recently departed. There will always be time for criticism.
      • Look at eveyr single socialist/communist state - every sing one, without fail, regulated speech and ensured that it was politically correct.

        Look at every single socialist / communist state - every single one, without fail, had people paid to promote things they didn't believe to get money from rich people who wanted into power or who wanted to stay in power, and who greased their hands in return.

        Paid speech isn't free. It costs more than just money.

      • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:27PM (#12130606)
        Saying ANYTHING politically INCORRECT is very much a right-wing/libertarian point of view.. always has been, always will be.

        Gee, how about when Bill Maher made some tasteless remark about the WTC attackers, and Ari Fleischer responded that "people need to be careful of what they say"? For that matter, the entire right wing has been telling the other half of the country that we're all traitors for not blindly supporting the president during war (that he started).

        And FYI, I'm a libertarian and 1st Amendment absolutist, but cut the bullshit. The right wing never cared about free expression until it realized that leftists could be just as oppressive as they could. It's a defensive maneuver, not a matter of principle.
        • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @02:23AM (#12131309) Homepage

          when Bill Maher made some tasteless remark about the WTC attackers

          When did that happen? What really happened is that he made a truthful comment about the WTC attackers - the comment that people should stop calling them cowards because frankly, performing an act to further a cause when you know it will get you killed is not cowardice in the slightest. That doesn't make it right, and that doesn't justify it. But he pointed out that while there were many reasons that what they did was wrong, cowardice couldn't possible be one of them. And in fact it was wrong because the people involved had way too MUCH conviction and certainty. The point being that conviction and certainty and willingness to die for your cause are not the automatically good and wonderful things people claim they are. It varies depending on what cause it is that you have conviction toward. The 9/11 terrorists are the perfect example of why that is. Blind obedience with utter certainty is not a virtue, but it is not cowardice either.

          That's not tasteless. It's right on the mark, and it's important to mention it at a time when people were using the terrorist attacks as an excuse to promote the attitude that more blind obedience to your country is a happy, happy, good goal to shoot for.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Your absolutely right about the issue of broadcast. But I think these sorts of regulations will never stand because they are grossly unconstitutional when applied to the Internet. Political speach is highly protected, but regulation is allowed in broadcast media because the public does not have equal access. Those who own the broadcast medias, or are wealthy enough to buy access, have an unfair advantage, so they need to be regulated. But the on the Internet this is not really true because it is cheap and e
  • What's a blog? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JeffTL ( 667728 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:33PM (#12130312)
    How do you define a blog, and how does it differ from a frequently-updated website?

    It'd be more easily enforcable (i.e. less loopholes) to apply such a regulation to all mass media, especially if preventing political bribery is your goal.
    • Re:What's a blog? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by usefool ( 798755 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:35PM (#12130327) Homepage
      Maybe they don't want mass public participation in a particular political discussion?

      Websites don't usually allow active discussion on a certain topic, but blogs are encouraging that.
    • Re:What's a blog? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wankledot ( 712148 )
      This is an excellent question. I remember back in the day when there was this thing called a "home page" that you "updated." You might have had a "news" section or a "what's new" part that had pictures of your cat. Maybe even a "guestbook."

      I still haven't been able to tell what makes a blog any different. I guess if it's whiney and useless enough, it qualifies as a blog.

  • Mixed blessing... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by argent ( 18001 )
    and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate.

    Sounds like a tax deduction to me. :)
  • by ciurana ( 2603 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:36PM (#12130330) Homepage Journal
    Greetings.

    I live in San Francisco. I can't believe that this is happening, but since it is, I have a simple solution: move to another jurisdiction. No, I don't mean "pack your bags and go". I mean that, in this age of interconnected servers throughout the world, hosting your 'blog in another jurisdiction isn't hard to do.

    I've ran a couple of servers from a neutral, European country for years. Whenever I want to post something that might piss someone off locally I just post it out of one of those machines and under a pseudonym. While this isn't untraceable by any stretch of the imagination, it makes things hard enough for idiots chasing the poster to give up.

    That's the beauty of the Internet/cyberspace. "Here" is simply wherever you want it to be.

    Cheers,

    E
  • News for news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:37PM (#12130341) Homepage Journal
    Has anybody got a link to an actual newspaper article on the subject? While bloggers and advocacy sites can break news stories, they're also full of innuendo, rumor, and things blown way out of proportion.

    I prefer to get my news from some organization without an axe to grind.
    • I prefer to get my news from some organization without an axe to grind.

      You must be new here...
    • Re:News for news (Score:3, Insightful)

      by penguinoid ( 724646 )
      I (like you?) preffer to get my news from a source which is indifferent to the question I seek to answer. In most cases, though, I am forced to try to average out two opposing viewpoints, and the more sources I have, the better. I also apperciate that blogs can be set up by anyone and does not need to stay in anyone's favor in order to survive. If one is taken down, it can be replaced by someone else. Effectively, you just can't threaten blogs to remove their content because if it is important someone i
  • Click whore (Score:5, Interesting)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:37PM (#12130343) Homepage
    (Second time I've posted it in the past week.)

    I discovered this issue 18 months ago.

    Virginia blogs barred from mentioning local candidates [underreported.com]

    • Re:Click whore (Score:3, Interesting)

      by utlemming ( 654269 )
      Wow...as a Virginian that is down right offensive. The internet is the only medium where the small guy can have his voice heard, and the only place that the average joe can afford to publish his voice and then change it whenever he wants. I would like to see it challeneged in court on the ideas of free speech issues. Are newspapers required to have a "sponsored by:" and be registered? No. They are free to endorse candidates and slam the others. Out of any attempt to regulate free speech, trying to regulate
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:40PM (#12130357)
    Why is it that slashdot members can't seem to read articles before posting their uninformed two bits? This legislation only applies to communications that are paid for by a PAC. I am a San Francisco resident and I often blog about politics, but I would be unaffected (despite several hundred hits at a time) by the legislation.

    They are regulating the communications of lobbists - not individuals - an action that slashdotters have seemingly always been for. For instance, this would keep microsoft on the level if they wanted to buy a candidate in SF office.
    • by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:51PM (#12130422) Homepage
      So now the government has the right to regulate speech so long as the person performing that speech receives some sort of monetary restitution for this?

      Perhaps there are better ways to create fair campaign finance regulations than this.

      As for me, I'm frankly unsure to what extent I can prevent this from affecting me. I will probably be creating a politics-related website within the near future which will eventually explicitly cover elections and such, but I am starting to fear I will be unable to run it off of a donation model since apparently if the wrong person clicks that paypal "support this site" link I suddenly mutate from being a free citizen exercising my right to operate a free private press into... well, something else. I wonder, is it possible to be infected with the you're-a-PAC-now virus if your hosting-bill funding comes from selling t-shirts?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I am saying things about an election, it's journalism.

    This is the case regardless of the medium on which I say things. The appearance of the "internet" does not mysteriously grant the government power to regulate speech, or the press.

    If they want me to register, or pay money, or do any damn thing they say because I am privately acting as a member of the press, then they can fuck off because they aren't getting anything out of me no matter what the law says. They don't have the power or authority to eit
  • by bsandersen ( 835481 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:45PM (#12130391) Homepage
    The end of the fairness doctrine during the Regan administration has blown the lid off of most any effort to have accountability on the airwaves and elsewhere. Instead of politicians speaking directly, their message is usually delivered by proxies. The Republicans have been masterful at this, deferring to talk radio hosts much of their message. Since the Right(tm) nearly owns all of the AM dial and all of the FM talk dial not associated with Public Radio, this has been an very effective conduit for them.

    Even if some wrong-headed blog-managing rules were put into place by SF, CA or the US, proxies would appear quickly and funnel the same information to those who might listen, with the source one-level-removed.

    Attempting to regulate speech is problematic, as I'm sure those behind this effort will discover.
  • This has a VERY saddening side effect: what if a local San Francisco poltician is doing screwy things and you try exposing them while their running? or how about your good ol' political critiqueing? This will in effect stomp out those who try to attack politicians for their fopaws. This is VERY serious issue, and should go to the courts.
  • Uh RTFO?... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Momoru ( 837801 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @10:50PM (#12130416) Homepage Journal
    Did the person that wrote the article (personaldemocracy.com) RTFO? The city ordinance does not specifically mention blogging as they seem to imply. It simply says that anyone participating in electioneering for a specific candidate, and spending more then $1000 needs to register. This covers print, internet (where they derive the blogging inference) etc. Your average blogger doesn't spend $10, let alone $1,000, and most political blogs are not for one specific SF candidate.
    • Re:Uh RTFO?... (Score:5, Informative)

      by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:18PM (#12130558) Homepage
      Link to the PDF [sfgov.org].

      It's a general ordinance referring to "electioneering communication." Essentially, if you spend over 1,000 dollars specifically trying to promote a single candidate, in any media, you have to register this for sake of tracking election funding. And that's it. The bill defines "electioneering communication" as any communication to broadcast, cable, radio, internet, or telephone, or mailings, flyers, doorhangers, pamphlets, brochures, cards, signs, billboards, facsimiles, or printed advertisements that: refers to a clearly identified candidate for City elective office or a City elective officer who is the subject of a recall election; and is distrubuted within 90 days to an election for the City elective office sought by the candidate or a recall election regarding the City elective officer to 500 or more individuals who are registered to vote or eligible to register to vote in the election or recall election. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that any broadcast, cable, satellite, or radio communication and any sign, billboard or printed advertisement is distributed to 500 or more individuals who are eligible to vote...

      This is a minor piece of campaign finance accountability. You can't buy thousands of dollars of airtime for a candidate without registering that with the city. It mentions the internet in passing, once, and no where else.

      And to be eligible, you have to have spent 1,000 dollars in the 3 months prior to get a candidate elected. How much of your blog is devoted to getting a candidate elected? Is your blog costing you 4,000 dollars a year?

      The ordinance makes explicit exceptions for spoken communication, news stories, communications to all members of a specific subgroup, communications during a debate, anything on bumper stickers, pins, stickers, hat bands, badges, ribbons, or other memorobelia, etc. While the 1,000 dollar threshold generally rules out having to register to be a blogger, if people were really worried about it, they could add such a thing here.

  • here are a couple paraphrased for my convienience

    "all elections communicaitons shall reveal/identify who paid for them" ie this was paid by ________

    dont try and hide who paid for the communication

    people paying for elections communications must detail their bills and send them over to the city if they go over 1000 bucks in aggregate per year.

    money contributions over 100 dollars which were intented to offset elections communications costs must be documented.

    that 500 person distribution limit for internet
  • report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate

    I can't imagine having more than $1000 in blog-related costs. This rule will have zero impact on the avarage blogger.

    The People have a right to know who is funding candidates, and all this requirement does is record who is paying the bills. Unlike the avarage blogger, these bloggers who market candidates have an agenda. Money is flowing, and we should know from where and to whom.

    I think what will piss people off is they will have to reth

  • by headrock ( 37375 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:01PM (#12130479)
    this is a direct result of mccain-feingold. the moment you decide to define 'legitimate media', for purposes of granting their political speech exception, you effectively create regulation of all media. once Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court decided that some citizens, based upon their full-time employment, enjoy free speech rights separate from everyone else, how else would you imagine that those speech restrictions be enforced?

    the blogosphere cannot become complacent about intrusions like this -- its actually what MSM and our representatives prefer, largely because it enhances their own power and/or kills open source journalism. so there will be no MSM outrage over this -- they want to hold onto their roles as gatekeepers.

  • by tungwaiyip ( 608795 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:08PM (#12130512) Homepage

    I haven't fully comprehend the proposed ordinance. But I think you guy pull the trigger too quick. I think what proposed amendment is target for elected officials, not your average citizens. The whole thing is probably spawn the supervisor Chris Daly's blog and they feel there is need to clarify the the guideline for themselves.

    Daly starts blog on city Web site District 6 supervisor first official to keep diary on city's site [sfgate.com]

  • by LMariachi ( 86077 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:10PM (#12130520) Journal
    From a somewhat cursory examination of the legislation being proposed, it looks like the summary is substantially misrepresenting it. It says that any person who spends over $1000 on "electioneering communications" has to file a statement with the Ethics Commission detailing where that money was spent and if they received any payments from anyone for the purpose of that electioneering. Furthermore, there's a list of exemptions which includes "news stories, commentaries, or editorials distributed through any newspaper, radio, television station, or other recognized news medium" which certainly might include a web page.

    The purpose of this legislation is not to "regulate blogging," as the submitter so breathlessly exclaims, it's to provide transparency in election financing. No one's being prevented from saying anything, or even from taking money to say a certain thing, but if anyone, whether blogger or billboard company or bumpersticker printer, receives money from a campaign or PAC to advocate that campaign or that PAC's issue, it's in the public's interest to know that fact. This is no different than the Federal laws that require political ads to identify the source of their funding ("This message has been brought to you by Citizens For Financial Obfuscation," that sort of thing.)

    Bloggers are understandably defensive at the moment, since the serious political commentators and newsgathering blogs are frequently lumped in with the likes of Free Republic and teenagers' LiveJournals, but misrepresenting the issues at hand to turn everything into "the mainstream media/government/alien overlord is threatened by blogging!" is not a worthy strategy.

    • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:39PM (#12130653)
      Let's say that slashdot was hosted/incorporated in SanFran.

      -Expenses over $1000/year?
      Check

      -Poitical section of their site?
      Check

      -Hosted direct statements and opinions from candidates?
      Check

      -Has discussed San Francisco City elections?
      Probably.

      exemptions which includes "news stories, commentaries, or editorials distributed through any newspaper, radio, television station, or other recognized news medium" which certainly might include a web page.
      Or it might not. Does this let all 'web pages' off the hook? Certainly not.

      So...would they have to file IAW this ruling? It would appear so.

  • by merpal ( 873013 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:24PM (#12130590)
    "San Francisco Attempts to Regulate Blogging"

    Enough said.

    This is like the UN trying to regulate the entire Internet. (April Fool's post)
  • My Reply To Maxwell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:26PM (#12130604) Journal
    What part of the first amendment do you not understand?

    I live in SF and I write a blog. It's not very political, but when it is, it is a very liberal blog. And if you continue on this path supporting this foolishness, and if it actually passes, I will do everything in my power to make sure you, and any supervisor who votes for this INSANE idea, are not re-elected.

    This is Simply Wrong.

    Rawls: Unfair, unjust, and unreasonable. Look it up.

    It is unfair, because it singles out a form of free expression as a form of speech that requires regulation. Pure Hate Speech and shouting fire in a theatre are regulated free expression. Blogs have no business being regulated like that.

    It is unjust, because it would treat all blogs the same. IF the blogger says "Bush is the Spawn of Satan", or "Liberals are the rotting core of Evil in the Universe" or "Go out and vote - it's important" it's all the same: political statements. This would clearly be an injustice.

    and it is unreasonable, as a blog can be about a million things, and often are. Politics is often a central theme, but it is not the only. Therefore, it is unreasonable to paint semi-political yet popular blogs the same as some fire breathing partisan blog.

    This legislation is also completely and utterly STUPID. Why? Because someone might live somewhere, but the blog could be hosted in FINLAND. Now: try and regulate political speech in Finland from San Francisco. Guess what: It Isn't Going To Happen. Ever.

    The internet is international. Get used to it.

    Worse, you have single handedly made San Francisco an international laughing stock, and more over: They Are Laughing At You.

    Smooth move Maxwell.

    I've always known you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but this latest embarrassment is really over the top.

    I will not register. Furthermore, I will cheerfully join a class action lawsuit to fight this, right to the Supreme Court, if necessary. If that fails, then me and my family will take our leave of this city. We moved here many years ago, because it was a city of free spirits. Then the dotcom idiots did their dead level best to ruin the place, and now incompetent politicians such as yourself are putting the final touches on it final implosion.

    I hope you're proud.

    RS

    • This is Simply Wrong.

      Your knee is jerking badly, IMO.

      What is the problem with registering? What is the problem with disclosing that a someone is funded to be someone else's mouthpiece? Surely, if a blogger can register (on pain of penalty) that he is NOT funded by some scumbag, then that only increases the credibility of his viewpoint.

    • Maybe before clicking "send" on that letter you should read the actual ordinance instead of taking the highly inaccurate summary as gospel. Blogs are not being singled out. They're not even mentioned. The legislation has to do with political contributions, not speech.
  • by to_kallon ( 778547 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:27PM (#12130607)
    especially on /. is that, given the predictable percentage of replies on how "unfair" and "outrageous" this is, no one is using one of my favorite words: unconstitutional. the issue at hand here is not whether they should do this or not. nor is the issue that for the proposed legislation the majority of bloggers would be unaffected. the issue instead is that it is not within the legal restrictions of the government to impose this ordinance. since it is, however, restricted to campaign related blogs, there are laws which stipulate, at least in certain media i know, that you have to give each candidate, given certain criteria, equal time/space. while i still think this is superfluous, it is a damn sight better than restricting free speech. yes, i understand that they're not trying to keep people from blogging, or restrict what they blog about with this piece of legislation. but, honestly, how long will it take for similar laws to get pushed in other states? and no, not all of them will pass, but the point is that once a majority of the nation does something one way, the majority of congress will mirror it because they're from those states. this scares me in a way that i normally reserver for senator orrin hatch, but i guess he's got some competition now. i guess we'll have to see how this pans out, but i must admit i'm alarmed by a number of the articles i read now, politically speaking.
  • by the-build-chicken ( 644253 ) on Sunday April 03, 2005 @11:41PM (#12130666)
    ...because no one here ever presents political opinions and I'm sure many would blow over $1000 worth of man hours here a year?
  • Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by katorga ( 623930 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @12:15AM (#12130831)
    "Its only applicable to blogs that mention candidates"

    Ummm. The First Ammendment's entire purpose is to protect political speech.

    No candidate or elected official should ever be shielded from the voice of the people. The 60 day moratorium on political speech by the public prior to an election is one of the most nefarious laws I have ever seen passed in the USA.

    The entire purpose of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights is to define the limits of government to act against the people. The campaign finance law has this all turned around.

    And notice that it did not seem to actually work. The last election was awash in money.
  • by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @12:36AM (#12130913)

    So campaign finance disclosure is now a bad thing?

    Once again, it is apparent that /. authors and readers don't bother checking facts and blindy believe any piece of misleading drivel they find on the internet. This is yet another BS article blowing things out of proportion and trying to stir up controversy (and maybe slashdot readership?). If I want to readed misleading, inflammatory, blown out of proportion crap then I would just head down to the supermarket and open the Enquirer!

    For those of you who didn't bother to actually read the ordinance before spouting off an opinion, The SF ordinance applies to people actually campaigning and doesn't specifically mention blogging. It says that if you are running for SF political office you have to disclose your expenditures. Standard policy. If you follow the editting marks in the ordinance, you'll see that it previously only referred to "expenditures". The revision added a lot of verbage to include "electioneering communications". Presumably that includes newspaper ads, radio spots, billboards, spam emails, a web site, setting up internet blogs, etc. I would be upset if a city didn't require candidates to disclose their expenditures.

    The ordinance does not apply to the average Joe on the street. It does not apply to newspaper articles and blogs not commisioned by the campaigner.

  • by samantha ( 68231 ) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @01:06AM (#12131018) Homepage
    Surely the people will not allow the very freedom to communicate and do so widely and instaneously that my generation of geeks worked hard to produce - this generation and ours shall not suffer this great gift to be shut down because it worries those in power. They have reason to be worried because they have done evil things. Now they have even more to be worried about because they are threaetenig to silence the people. They act as if the Net and the Web is their property. They are not. They are the property of the people.

    I never thougt to see in my time this awful mixture of great evil from politicians and the people making excuses as to why removing their freedom is just fine. Is their no level of political evil and spitting malice from our supposed servants that will cause us to stand up in masse for freedom, for justice, for our lives, for anything? Are we rotten and empty to the core?
  • by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @02:55AM (#12131440)
    As a resident, I'm not betting on this ordinance passing or lasting. I know the "conservative" slashdoters are getting their kicks in by making fun of our seemingly "oppressive" city. But stuff like this rarely passes or hangs around for very long.

    Like every major city, stupid city ordinances get proposed. But the public learns about them, and they are remedied. You can't have 3/4 of a million people living in one place and expect EVERY proposed city ordinance to be pure gold.

    Some crazy computer-less hippy probably proposed this. He will be dealt with accordingly. Go about your business.
  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @03:53AM (#12131628)
    I like the posts that say "Oh, this doesn't matter much, it'll only effect you if you mention a candidate running for local office.".

    Oh, ok. It's only regulateable speech if it's about something that matters. You can say "flowers are pretty" all day long!

    I don't see how this doesn't violate free speech in unspeakable ways. Scream people, this is *worse* than the DMCA.

    I think what bugs me the most is that the way speech used be "regulated" here in the US is that you couldn't talk about sex except with innuendo, and you couldn't talk about God unless you had something nice to say. Now those two aren't nearly as taboo, but the Supreme Court checked off the ability to regulate political speech, technical speech is regulateable under patents and the DMCA (recall that software is inherently speech), and people are really leery of mentioning brand names in ways that haven't been vetted by a team of lawyers.

    Hence corporations: the new gods. Want to say "Wal*Mart sucks?" Sure, you'll have a case if they attack you. And they almost certainly won't. But, they can conceivably attack you- that's the problem.

    Scientology sort of proves the point, with many of their amazing lawsuits.
  • I blame 'bloggers' (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @07:22AM (#12132310) Journal
    I cannot bring to words how much contempt I have for the 'blogging' phenomenon, in todays world where protocols are attacked (torrents / p2p / http - same thing, but if you label yourself you can be a target) people have labelled 'putting information on the intarweb' 'blogging' because everything is a blog nowwadays.

    When are the movies out? check the movie blog. WRONG, it isn't a log, it is a news article with a forward thinking measure.

    I also hate the endless endless agregation, why even link to engaydget.com from slashdot whenthey are blogging about the same thing that /. is aggregating?

    Damn damn damn. bah. *exasperating lack of ability to voice contempt for blogging* (except blogs that are retrospective personal logs - not just blogs for the same of link/comment/spam/$$$/whoring - and only those because they are really web logs)
    • by adzoox ( 615327 ) *
      I have switched the majority of my site [jackwhispers.com] to a blogger BLOG [jackwhispers.blogspot.com]. It's been a way for my site to grow easily. It's also easy to gain revenue from BLOGs that otherwise might not have been successful. I also can post small or insignificant posts that relate to my site's content, get reader feedback, and allow people who disagree with my editorials to return comment.

      Your engadget reference is a good example of this ... until someone here on slashdot pointed it out to me
  • by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @09:57AM (#12133243)
    and yes, it is BAD. No, the slashdot summary is not misleading, it is dead on.

    The ordinance defines "electioneering communication" as mentioning a specific candidate for city office within 90 days of the election.

    It requires ANYONE engaging in "electioneering communication" to include in the communication "Paid for by ...".

    It also requires anyone who spends more than $1000 a year on such communications to file a report with the city UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY.

    There are exemptions for person to person conversation and for major media outlets, such as newspapers and tv news organizations. It is very clear that the ordinance covers bloggers.

    Recent Supreme Court decisions have distinguished spending from speech. It seemed like a logical distinction at the time, but we now are seeing the results of that sort of thinking... There is no a HUGE loophole in the First Amendment. Any form of speech other than direct person to person communication requires spending at least a little money.

    Oh well, 200 years of (mostly) Free Speech is better than anyone else has pulled off yet.

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