Following up on a story he broke last night, Dakota War College posted the following proposed legislation purportedly from Rep. Noel Hamiel of Mitchell and Senator Nancy Turbak Berry of Watertown earlier this evening. No such bill has been filed yet. The post showed up in my RSS feed. The original post appears to have disappeared from DWC. Perhaps the chilling effect of such a disastrously unconstitutinoal piece of legislation is already kicking in. Here's the leaked copy of this blog-killing purported legislation:
For an act entitled, An act to provide for a process of obtaining certain information from online content providers in slander and libel actions.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That chapter 20-11 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
Any person who allows internet posts shall keep a record of the internet-protocol logs adequate to provide identifciaton and location of otherwise unknown, anonymous, or pseudonymous persons who leave or upload content. However, no person may be compelled to produce such information except in response to a court order.
Section 2. That chapter 20-11 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
Any party seeking an order compelling production of internet-protocol logs, whether in an action brought under this chapter or under common law shall establish:
(1.) That the request for infoamtion is made in good faith and not for any improper purpose;
(2 )That the information sought relates to a material claim or defense;
(3.) That the identifying information is directly and materially relevant to that claim or defense; and
(4.) That the information sufficient to establish or to disprove that claim or defense is unavailable from any other source.
Section 3. For the purposes of this ACT the term, internet, is the same as the term is defined in 37-24-41.
As other users of free site tracking software know, we don't get permanent archives of identifiable IP info on our users. A law like the above, if passed and enforced, would mean bloggers around the state would be shutting down comments, if not shutting down their blogs entirely.
Is that what our legislators want? Is the online monitoring and discussion of their actions in Pierre just too much democracy for them to handle?
A bill like this would be an enormous threat to the First Amendment and our ability to hold our legislators accountable through online discourse. Rep. Hamiel, Sen. Turbak Berry, if you really have legislation like this in your briefcase, if you are really thinking about placing it in the hopper for the full Legislature to consider, think again. A law like the above would be a bad, bad, bad idea.
And if you do file this legislation, expect calls. Lots of calls. And e-mails.
Update 22:23 CST: "any person"—I assume that includes corporations. Have fun applying this law to Twitter. They're working on technology to circumvent censorship by oppressive governments.
But if Pierre really wants to shut the blogosphere up, they could just make us all get licenses to post Web content. Works like a charm in China.