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Florida bill would require bloggers who write about the governor and lawmakers to register with the state


Mar 2, 2023

A Republican state senator in Florida has introduced a bill that, if passed, would require bloggers who write about Gov. Ron DeSantis, his cabinet or state legislators to register with the state.

from Senator Jason Brodeur billTitled «Information Dissemination,» it would also require bloggers to disclose who pays them to post about certain elected officials and how much.

«If a blogger blogs about a state elected official and receives, or will receive, compensation for that post, the blogger must register» with the appropriate office within five days of posting, the proposed legislation says.

It defines «state elected official» as «the governor, lieutenant governor, a cabinet official, or any member of the legislature.»

Failure to register would result in a $25 per day fine, and the fine would be capped at $2,500 per post, NBC affiliate WFLA of Tampa informed.

The bill says bloggers’ reports to the state «must include» the «individual or entity that compensated the blogger for the blog post and «the amount of compensation received from the individual or entity.»

The bill defines a blog as «a website or web page that hosts any blogger and is frequently updated with opinions, comments, or commercial content,» but says that «the term does not include the website of a newspaper or other similar publication».

DeSantis’ office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night about his position on the bill.

Brodeur did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night, but told the website Florida Politics, which first reported on the bill, that “paid bloggers are lobbyists who write instead of talk. Both are professional voters. If lobbyists have to register and report, why shouldn’t paid bloggers do it?

Ron Kuby, a First Amendment attorney in New York, said the law would not survive a court challenge if it passes.

«It’s hard to imagine a proposal that would be more in violation of the First Amendment,» Kuby said. «We do not register journalists. People who write cannot be forced to register.»