by - April 24, 2012

Ann Ravel, chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, recently announced that she wants to require bloggers to disclose whether they have received payments from political campaigns. The proposal to affix a scarlet letter on a class of political speakers raises a number of questions.

  1. The Internet is global. The commission’s jurisdiction is limited to California. If campaigns find it useful to make payments to online sock puppets, won’t they funnel the dollars to bloggers living outside the state? Do we want to send jobs out of California?

  2. Who is a blogger? Is it anyone who puts content online, including employees of corporate media outlets? Is columnist Dan Walters, who writes on the Sacramento Bee’s blog in addition to the newspaper, a blogger subject to disclosure? Or is it just independent writers like me when we post online? Would the disclosure rule apply to posts on Twitter? To videos posted on YouTube or Vimeo? Would someone on the payroll of a campaign have to disclose that relationship on her Facebook page before she could “like” a candidate?

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