Blogged Down

Censoring the Web


In the last few months, legislators in both Texas and Tennessee have explored the idea of slapping blogs with special "online defamation" regulations.

A Tennessee proposal, pushed by state Sen. Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville), would give bloggers two days to take down any statement a public figure deems defamatory. Those who fail to comply would face "a presumption of malice intent," and the statement would not actually have to be defamatory for the presumption to kick in.

Prominent bloggers have helped beat back this initial batch of bills, but the onslaught is probably just beginning. As blogs traffic in more video and start to look more like little broadcasters than Committees of Correspondence, politicians will want to regulate. Campaign ads, driven to the Internet by restrictions on old media, may spark a regulatory showdown.