There’s a reason the Golden State often is referred to as the “left coast” and the land of “fruits and nuts,” where some beleaguered residents put “Occupied California” on their return address.
After all, it’s the state where a homosexual judge overruled the voter-approved definition of marriage, counselors can’t help patients who want to overcome homosexuality and leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein regularly are dispatched to Washington.
But now comes a whole new level of government intervention.
It’s a bill that purports to determine “what is or isn’t misleading and apply to a citizen’s social media posts, blog, etc.”
The Techdirt blog writer was alarmed by the plan, which states: “It is unlawful for a person to knowingly and willingly make, publish or circulate on an Internet Web site, or cause to be made, published, or circulated in any writing posted on an Internet Web site, a false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote on either of the following: Any issue submitted to voters at an election. Any candidate for election to public office.”
The blogger said the law would make opinions and misinterpretations of ballot measures or a candidates’ political stances illegal acts.
“The law goes further than simply punishing the writer of false statements. It also aims to punish publishers (which could be read as punishing hosts who would normally be protected by Section 230) and anyone who shares the newly illegal content,” the blogger explained.
“If anything in the original post hints of political leaning, it can be construed as ‘designed to influence the vote,’ which would make most heated political discussions a breeding ground for criminal communications.”
The bill, the “California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act,” amends the state’s elections code.
It’s been referred to committee for review already.
The plan also makes it illegal to register a domain name “that is similar to another domain name for a political Web site,” divert access to a political website through “meta-tags or other electronic measures” or “intentionally preventing or denying exit from a political Web site by the use of frames, hyperlinks, mousetrapping, popup screens, or other electronic measures.”
It’s being sponsored by Ed Chau, a Democrat born in Hong Kong.
Explained Techdirt: “There’s something to be said for an informed electorate, although it really shouldn’t be elected officials advocating for it. They’d benefit least from people knowing more about sausage and the making thereof. And legislators definitely shouldn’t be robbing the First Amendment to pay for better information, as a few California lawmakers are attempting to do.
“Ostensibly, the bill is aimed at keeping voters from being misled on issues that affect them. The problem is, this bill would allow the government to determine what is or isn’t misleading and apply to a citizen’s social media posts, blog, etc.,” the explanation continued.
“If California’s government doesn’t like the tone of online posts about ballot measures, it has plenty of opportunities (and numerous platforms) to set the record straight. Worse, it gives the government the power to shut down speech it doesn’t agree with under the pretense preventing voters from being misled,” it said.