California Bill To Ban Fake News, Critics Call It ‘Disastrous For Free Speech’
Mar 29, 2017 12:21 PM EDT
California lawmaker Ed Chau proposed a bill to intentionally ban false stories about elections after critics called it "disastrous for free speech." In layman term, the California bill says it would be illegal to be wrong on the internet if it could impact an election.
The California Assembly's Committee on Privacy and Consumer Affairs, chaired by Ed Chau, will consider Assembly Bill 1104, according to California Legislative Information. It's a censorship bill that would make it "unlawful" to publish any intentionally "false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote" for public office or ballot measure, apart from posting them on websites, under the proposed California bill.
The California bill has received opposition from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco civil liberties advocacy group. EFF has started a Twitter campaign attacking Chau's bill, saying it would be "disastrous for free speech" and "obviously unconstitutional."
According to the California Constitution, Section 10 of Article VII seems unconstitutional because it violates the right of free speech of candidates, EFF said in a written statement. "You can't fight fake news with a bad law."
Chau was scheduled to introduce the proposed California bill at a hearing before the Committee on Privacy and Consumer Affairs just yesterday, but the bill was pulled from the hearing schedule. His office declined to comment on the pull-out and said it's not clear what the penalties would be for violating the law, according to TheWrap.
However, California already has an obscure law banning fake news by candidates. According to Chau's analysis of Assembly Bill 1104 under the California bill, anyone who wins an election by lying about their opponent must forfeit public office if they are sued for defamation, and if "the statement was made with the knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or true."