pay attention..... this matters
You haven't heard from us in a few months - but we've been working hard to protect your freedom to speak online. And now we need your help.
Right now - there are TWO bills in Congress that will affect bloggers - one good, one bad. The bill that deserves our support is HR 1606 - The Online Freedom of Speech Act.
The other bill - HR 4194 - is a substitute offered by those most interested in regulating the Internet. Its supporters are engaged in an aggressive campaign to pass this legislation in Congress, in an effort to muddy the waters and distract Congress from passing real protections for bloggers. They're so terrified of your freedom to speak your mind that they've actually compared giving freedom to bloggers to the scandal involving Scooter Libby in the White House. (No, we're not making that up.)
In order to pass the bill we want - we need - to stop the sham alternative bill, HR 4194.
Their measure, HR 4194 purports to protect "bloggers" from campaign finance regulation. But, in fact, it is so riddled with exceptions and exclusions that it is worse that nothing.
Click here to search for your member of Congress by zip code. Tell them that the blogosphere is not behind HR 4194.
Problems with 4194:
* It offers no guidance as to the treatment of group political activity, potentially treating all group websites that discuss federal candidates as political committees
* It would stifle technological innovation. HR 4914 specifically mentions "blogging," but ignores such as already-widely used technologies like podcasting, wikis and peer-to-peer networks, let alone the technologies of tomorrow.
* Its alleged protection to incorporated bloggers offers no real protection. In comments filed before the FEC, supporters of HR 4194 have stated explicitly that those websites which endorse, expressly advocate, and urge readers to donate funds to the election of preferred candidates do not qualify for protection under the law. This would force bloggers that speak forcefully about politics to seek legal counsel - a complete disaster.
This measure is a smokescreen designed to confuse the issue and prevent better laws from passing. Call your Representatives in Congress and make sure they understand that HR 4194 is unacceptable.
The Online Coalition
PS - If you're a blogger, make sure your member of Congress knows that you're telling your readers about HR 4194. And if you post about this issue - please send a trackback to this post so we can show Congress what bloggers think about their watered-down attempts to "protect" free speech online.