Tomorrow afternoon the House of Representatives is set to vote on the Online Freedom of Speech Act (H.R. 1606) which will protect the right of bloggers, online journalists and those posting to newsgroups and forums to continue to express their political opinions freely. This bill was introduced in response to the Federal Court's decision to extend the provisions of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act to the internet. This will have the effect of drastically restricting free political speech on the internet and treat it as if it was political advertising, potentially requiring bloggers to register as PACs, file large amounts of paperwork, or pay substantial fines. At the very least you would be prohibited from posting about politics or sending emails about political issues for as much as 60 days before an election.
McCain-Feingold is a disaster which will ultimately be struck down by the Supreme Court, but until that happens this act now in Congress is an essential short-term way to protect your rights to free speech. The more we let them restrict our free speech, the more the entrenched establishment of career politicians can use their position of advantage to block any political change and hold on to power. This will destroy the power of modern grass-roots campaigning through the internet.
This is the brief letter I sent to my Congressman, Mike McCaul:
Dear Rep. McCaul:
I wanted to take a moment to urge you to vote in support of HR 1606 which I believe comes up for a vote tomorrow. This is the “Online Freedom of Speech Act” which is designed to prevent the stifling of free speech rights on the internet which may result from the restrictions of the McCain-Feingold act.
Those of us who use the internet to express our opinions and ideas deserve to do so with the same freedom we would have if we were discussing politics in our local bar or coffee shop with our friends. The Constitution guarantees the right to speak freely on the streetcorner, in our homes and in print. That right should not be restricted on the internet to serve ill-considered ideas of 'political fairness'. It's never fair to take free speech away from the people.
To send an email to your own representative just go to the www.house.gov and use the form they provide. To get more info on this topic, visit the Liberty Committee website. To hear the counter-argument from the voice of the elite, check out the editorial in today's New York Times.
There's not much time to act. The bill will be voted on tomorrow afternoon, so send your email or make a phonecall tonight or tomorrow to tell your representative to do his job and protect your rights and vote “yes” on for online freedom of speech.
Iran and China have a policy of silencing bloggers to protect the state. Do you think we ought to follow their example here in America?