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Florida Bill Would Require Bloggers Who Write About DeSantis to Register With the State

Freedom of Speech Florida
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"It's hard to imagine a proposal that would be more violative of the First Amendment," lawyer Ron Kuby said.

An "Information Dissemination" bill would require bloggers would write about government officials — such as Governor Ron DeSantis or his Cabinet — to register with the state.

Introduced by Jason Brodeur, the bill would also require writers to disclose who is paying them, and that they "must include" the "amount of compensation received from the individual or entity."

"If a blogger posts to a blog about an elected state officer and receives, or will receive, compensation for that post, the blogger must register," the legislation reads.

"Elected state officer" is defined as "the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, a Cabinet officer, or any member of the Legislature," with the legislation defining blogs as "a website or webpage that hosts any blogger and is frequently updated with opinion, commentary, or business content." It noted that the "term does not include the website of a newspaper or other similar publication."

Failing to register with the state would lead to a $25 per day fine, capped at $2,500 per post.

Brodeur has defended the controversial proposal, telling Florida Politics: “Paid bloggers are lobbyists who write instead of talk. They both are professional electioneers. If lobbyists have to register and report, why shouldn’t paid bloggers?”

In 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed an alarmingly similar "bloggers law" that required writers to register with the Russian government, including on social media. Human rights groups at the time called the law a "draconian" way to ensure government control of the internet.

Ron Kuby, a First Amendment lawyer, told NBC that he does not expect the recent Florida bill to pass due to its clear violations of free speech laws.

"It's hard to imagine a proposal that would be more violative of the First Amendment," he said. "We don't register journalists. People who write cannot be forced to register."

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