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Submission + - Is Freedom of Political Expression About To Be Curtailed? 1

superwiz writes: Alan Dershowitz, a Constitutional scholar and a Harvard Law professor, made a public prediction that freedom of political expression guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution would come under attack "soon". He made his prediction in 2008 in this speech:

And he outlined the reason for it quite simple: until recently public speech was only the domain of few privileged individuals. But as it becomes the domain of everyone more and more, the elites have more to gain by suppressing it. His outline starts at

Variety of sources reported today that Sen. McCain (R) joined Sens. Mark Warner(D) and Amy Klobuchar(D) in introducing legislature which would require disclosure of political ad buys on the Internet if the amount spent on the ads was $500 or greater. Ostensibly this law was introduced in response to "Russian interfering in the US election" in the form of a $100,000 ad buy on Facebook.

The language used to justify the legislature is somewhat misleading in that it attempts to paint "social media" as a new type of "media", claiming that it simply tries to bring new media inline with the old media. But it completely ignores the "social" part of the "social media", which makes it more akin to a town square than to the old broadcast media such as radio and TV.

A more cynical point of view is that every law has instances of potential overreach in enforcement. So it is plausible to expect that this law can be used as an instrument to quash or de-anonymize political posts of opponents by future political operatives. The very low threshold requiring deanonymizing ($500) puts a huge burden of proof on any social media company (such as Slashdot) to prove that its comments section does not get hijacked by astro-turfing. The counter argument, of course, is that the law doesn't require reporting sources of free posts. Any law, however, will have as chilling an effect as its worst successful application.

If this law passes, should we expect to see prohibition on AC posts after the 1st time a judge declares that politically-bent comments on Slashdot are no different from paid advertisements? Can Slashdot, or even some of the smaller sites, withstand such legal assaults on its format by well-funded future political campaigns?
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Is Freedom of Political Expression About To Be Curtailed?

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  • The elites were caught flatfooted by the rise of the alternative media. They were the only ones with the real story of the 2016 election, all other sources were wrong. This was a great shock. After recovering, our elites decided that this would never happen again. Not brute censorship, but by demonetizing Youtube videos, burying websites on page 138 of Google results, blocking DNS registrars, the list goes on. The election coming out the wrong way must not be allowed to happen again, and they're taking

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