Watch CBS News

Proposed bill would require bloggers to register before writing about Florida government officials

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) - A new Florida bill has been introduced that would require Florida bloggers to register with the state before writing about government officials, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, cabinet officers and lawmakers. If not, they could face penalties.

The bill has sparked controversy among first amendment advocates and legal experts questioning the bill who argue that it violates the freedom of speech.

"The governor and other politicians in the state talk about freedom. One of our first freedoms is freedom of speech and so I would remind lawmakers that anything like this restricts speech is inconsistent with the freedom that they say they're in favor of," said Lake James Lake, media law expert with TLo Law Firm. "And it just doesn't make any sense. I don't understand the purpose of it and I don't think that it would pass any sort of constitutional analysis."

Senate Bill 1316 was introduced by Senator Jason Brodeur, proposing that bloggers who write about state officials must register with either the Florida office of legislative services or the commission on ethics before publishing any content.

The bill reads that "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 with the appropriate office … within 5 days after the first post by the blogger which mentions an elected state officer."

Monthly detailed reports will be required for bloggers who add additional posts about elected officials. Failure to file them could result in fines.

Critics of the bill argue that it could set a dangerous precedent for government control over the media.

"The proposed law would not require registration of speakers who are talking about judges, celebrities, football players," said Lake. "It's only if you talk about the governor and other members of state government. I don't understand why they should get special protection and why speech about them should be treated differently."

If the bill passes, it will take effect immediately after being approved. We will continue to monitor the developments of this bill and keep you updated.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.