San Francisco and Blogs

SAN FRANCISCO AND BLOGS….So is San Francisco really planning to pass an ordinance that would regulate blogs that engage in “electioneering”? Two experts weigh in:

  • Eugene Volokh reads through the proposed ordinance and concludes that it gives him a headache. It’s hard to say what it would and wouldn’t do, but in any case its impact on blogs seems to hinge on whether they would fall under the “recognized news medium” exemption, which he suspects is unconstitutionally vague anyway.

  • Chris Nolan examines the lawmaking process itself and reports that there are actually two laws being considered. The first (bad) one is a placeholder designed to keep the legislative wheels turning, while a second (better) one is being prepared that will be swapped for the bad one later this week. Murky details here. The purpose of the revised wording is to make it clear that blogs are exempt. “The intent of the legislation is to cover blogs as a recognized news entity,” said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell.

OK then, nothing to worry about. At least for now.

But this issue isn’t going to go away. At some point, whether it’s from the FEC or the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, blogs are going to end up being regulated in some way or another. The scope for abuse by politicians ? who will mysteriously start funneling money to both blogs and “blogs” ? is just too great if they aren’t. However, regulation will likely be aimed fairly tightly at blogs that coordinate with campaigns, and the standard for proving “coordination” seems to be pretty high. Thus, it’s not likely to be very burdensome or affect very many blogs. Definitely worth keeping an eye on, though.

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