The illustrious Agent 99 has forwarded me an article which is disturbing to say the least, and over which I am extremely mad. Mad I tell you.
I have touched upon the subject of government control over the free flow of information on the internet here. Now it seems our government is trying to bring to fruition their plan to take over the internet and force the end to free speech in this wonderful medium.
Chairman Richard A. Vigueie of grassrootsfreedom.com had this to say about this portion of the lobbying reform bill:
Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to 500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220 would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history, critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself.Did you get that? - they are trying to redefine “Lobbyist” to include bloggers:
Under current law any 'lobbyist’ who 'knowingly and willingly fails to file or report’ quarterly to the government faces criminal charges including a possible jail term of up to one year.Must I therefore install some utility to log all unique IP addresses which access my blog and have some kind of alarm to let me know when it reaches 500 so I can rush out and register? Or do I need to make it a subscription only site? If I sign a petition to my Senator I'm now a lobbyist? Give me a break! It is the right of citizens in this country to petition the government! Hell - it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the citizens to petition the government when it is not performing the will of the people!
In this article by Mark Fitzgibbons at GrassrootsFreedom.com, Mark lays out the ways under which this legislation applies to bloggers, not only true lobbyists.
Mark points to the disturbing fact that it is the Democrats who are pushing this new definition of Lobbyist while trying to clean up the corruption of the Lobbying profession. While that goal is admirable, it has nothing to do with expressing one’s political gripes in an open forum. The internet is today's soap box, a once revered item in every town square! This legislation along with the proposals by John McCain to fine bloggers and website owners up to $300,000 for offensive statements posted in their message boards will put a huge damper on the free flow of information which is critical of any member of, or action taken by, the government.
Even my Sister Sites are facing their own internet censorship. In Sydney a recent court case has opened the specter of simply linking to another site as being a copyright infringement and piracy. And in Iran the bloggers were recently required to register with the government.
Dissent and the questioning of our government were once the Honorable and Patriotic things to do, but now this government wants to control every aspect of our lives while keeping all their actions secret. Paul Joseph Watson of Prison Planet sums it up this way:
It is also a callous reminder that the administration that has been the progenitor of the most heinous and deliberate campaign to mislead and lie to its own people is so transfixed by its own hubris that it has the temerity to accuse others of propagating deceptive information.How dare they indeed!
This is the same administration that deliberately included the Niger yellow cake fraud in a state of the union speech to sell a war - knowing that the information was completely bogus.
How dare they threaten us with the very defining characteristic of their black legacy and equate us with terrorists?
This is a direct assault on the alternative media and a continuation of the twilight zone rhetoric that saw the administration attempt to link its critics with Fascists and Hitler appeasers. The only fascists that should really concern us are not imaginary 'Blogofascists' or 'Islamofascists' but the Neo-Fascist slugs that occupy the White House and their cheerleading sycophants in the mainstream media and congress.
If you haven't read my original article as linked above, take a glance there and then be sure to check out the other links - too many to list here - at Agent 99's Link.
Finally, go to GrassRootsFreedom.com and sign the Petition so that lowly bloggers such as myself and my blogging friends can continue to spread a little bit of the truth.
UPDATE 1/30/07 12:00PM:
No sooner had I posted this article than this news hit the headlines:
FBI turns to broad new wiretap method.
The FBI appears to have adopted an invasive Internet surveillance technique that collects far more data on innocent Americans than previously has been disclosed.This method is being called "The Vacumn Cleaner Method" since it collects all the information going through it and stores it for filtering at a later date.
Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials. That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords.
Such a technique is broader and potentially more intrusive than the FBI's Carnivore surveillance system, later renamed DCS1000. It raises concerns similar to those stirred by widespread Internet monitoring that the National Security Agency is said to have done, according to documents that have surfaced in one federal lawsuit, and may stretch the bounds of what's legally permissible.This administration has stretched the bounds of what's legally permissible until they snapped, yet I am still waiting for some form of action to stop them!