The Licensing of the Press Act was written in 1662, by the Parliament of England. Originally titled “An Act for preventing the frequent Abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed Books and Pamphlets and for regulating of Printing and Printing Presses,” the act called for severe fines and/or imprisonment for printing “illegal” materials.
Due to the perceived danger of dissenting views, printing presses were no longer able to be set up without the explicit endorsement of a royal licensing agency known as the Stationer’s Company.
This all too common type of law arises from a repeating truth cyclically proven over the centuries: uncontrolled information begets laws controlling information. Like England of old, now a new censorship law will be focused on our media and internet.
With passions still high from election results, it is not a coincidence our media has struck with a coordinated attack on “fake news” right before the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act was quietly voted into law last week. With great fear mongering, as is tradition, comes horrible legislation. Just as being a proper patriot under the Patriot Act means an acceptance of the near destruction of the Bill of Rights, we must now learn what it means to live under the latest ruling to strip constitutional rights.
While the country was still divided and distracted, politicians like Senators Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Chris Murphy wasted no time with achieving the same goal of controlling the input avaliable to their people as so many despots in the past.
The Act tasks the Secretary of State with coordinating the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response,” which will identify and locate sources of “fake news,” analyze data, and — Like ol’ Winston in the Ministry of Truth— ‘develop and disseminate’ effective propaganda.
Section 403, “Assistance for governmental entities and private entities in recognizing online violent extremist content,” relates to the creation of a list of “questionable” content. It explains that 180 days after the enactment of the Act, “the Director of National Intelligence shall publish on a publicly available internet website a list of all logos, symbols, insignia, and other markings commonly associated with, or adopted by, an organization designated by the Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 21 1189(a).”
Given that the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post have not had a single story on this subject, it should never be more obvious to the American public what “fake” news truly looks like . A serious inquiry must be made as to why every major news outlet in America considered stories about “Pizzagate” and “Pepe the frog” to be more important than a law that limits the 1st Amendment.
Has anyone else noticed how “we the people” are always fooled? The American people are told to be scared, and after a sufficient period of time, we’re told some new legislation will alleviate that intentionally introduced anxiety. A few years later, without fail, we realize the whole scenario was a charade to limit our rights. The sad part is how we fall for it each and every time.
Since officials will now be determining what information we’re mature enough to hear, is it only fitting to start calling them “daddy”?