The Senate Public Safety Committee will hear Senate Bill 448 (SB 448) on July 14. The bill, if passed, would require all registered citizens to disclose their “internet identifiers” to law enforcement within five working days.
“The bill’s requirement would violate the 1st Amendment rights of registered citizens,” stated CA RSOL president Janice Bellucci, “because the identify of registered citizens would be revealed every time they expressed their opinions on websites such as that operated by CA RSOL.”
The author of the bill is Senator Hueso, a Democrat, who represents southern San Diego County, including National City.
“The apparent purpose of this bill is to overturn court decisions that stopped enforcement of requirements within Proposition 35 that registered citizens disclose their internet identifiers,” stated Bellucci. “California RSOL is a plaintiff in that case.”
ACLU, which filed the lawsuit challenging Proposition 35, also opposes SB 448 is expected to testify at the hearing on July 14. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Room 3191 of the State Capitol.
“It is time for registered citizens and those who support them to send letters to members of the Senate Public Safety requesting that they oppose SB 448,” stated CA RSOL vice president Chance Oberstein.
Below please find a sample letter to send to the members of the Public Safety Committee. Feel free to edit as you see fit.
*** Senator Loni Hancock, Chair – or – Member Senate Public Safety Committee***
Senate Public Safety Committee
State Capitol Building, Room ***
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Chairman Hancock – or – Senator ***:
I am writing in strong opposition to Senate Bill (SB) 448 which is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee on July 14. The bill, if passed, would require more than 100,000 residents of California to disclose their internet identifiers to law enforcement within five working days.
Requiring an individual to reveal his or her internet identifier is a violation of that individual’s constitutional right of free speech. Specifically, it is a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which protects a person’s right to exercise free of speech “anonymously.”
The U.S. Supreme Court recently determined:
“Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation – and their ideas from suppression – at the hand of an intolerant society.” McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334, 34 (1995)
If SB 448 becomes law, the anonymity of registered citizens, who are unpopular individuals in today’s intolerant society, will be suppressed. They will be unable to express their opinions on topics such as SB 448 due to fear of retaliation.
The right of anonymous speech is of great importance in the context of internet sites. The U.S. Supreme Court has strongly implied and lower appellate courts have affirmatively ruled, that when accessed from one’s home the internet constitutes a “public forum” for purposes of the First Amendment. Doe v. Harris, 772 F.3d 563, 574 (9th Cir. 2014), quoting Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 870 (1997).
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. For the reasons stated above, we request that you and all members of the Senate Public Safety Committee vote “no” on SB 448.
*** your name here***