This week in Florida authoritarianism, a bill was introduced by State Sen. Jason Brodeur that would require bloggers to register with the state government when they are paid to write about the governor and other political figures. After registering, bloggers would be forced to file monthly reports listing every one of their posts, how much they were paid for them, and where the money came from. Those who fail to do so could be fined up to $2,500 for each missing report.
- The bill defines a blog as “a website or webpage that hosts any blogger and is frequently updated with opinion, commentary, or business content.”
- A blogger is defined as any person “that submits a blog post to a blog which is subsequently published.”
Prior to his election, this Orlando area state lawmaker was found to have paid a blogger associated with Infowars as well as the Proud Boys $37,000.
Others have also introduced separate legislation to make it easier to sue the news media for alleged defamation. Weeks earlier, Gov. Ron DeSantis lamented how hard it is to sue journalists in the United States.
That previous bill was introduced by Rep. Alex Andrade (R) in February, and both bills would pave the way for sweeping changes in journalism in Florida.
Free speech protections are granted to U.S. journalists by the Constitution, and cemented by the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing the usage of anonymous sources.
The Florida bills would automatically declare the information provided by anonymous sources false, and journalists would have a harder time protecting sources’ identities.
The blogger registration bill sounds eerily similar to a bill passed at the start of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s tenure in 2010, initially requiring news outlets to register before beginning to publish.
The Hungarian bill received pushback, and a year later was amended to allow bloggers 60 days to register.
Orbán’s authoritarian government may be a template for other Florida legislation, including the Don’t Say Gay law.
Rod Dreher, a right-wing figure who lives in Budapest, explained during an interview last year that a reporter told him they had “talked to the press secretary of Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and she said, ‘Oh yeah, we were watching the Hungarians, so yay Hungary.’”
In 2018, Orbán also banned gender studies programs at universities.
Read more at Mother Jones.