In a victory for the free speech rights of bloggers, Kentucky has settled a lawsuit with political blogger Mark Nickolas, whose critical comments about then-Governor Ernie Fletcher resulted in the state “blacklisting” all blogs on state-owned computers. Under the settlement, Kentucky officials agreed to no longer single out blogs for special treatment.
Public Citizen filed suit against Fletcher on Nickolas’s behalf, arguing that arbitrarily discriminating between blogs and mainstream media sites violated the First Amendment. Public Citizen also presented evidence that the filtering policy was implemented because the governor’s office was unhappy with Nickolas’s blog, which was widely read by state employees. The ban went into effect the same day Nickolas was quoted in The New York Times criticizing Fletcher.
Kentucky reserved the right to regulate its computer systems to prevent employees from accessing inappropriate sites, but agreed not to discriminate against websites just because they are blogs.
Public Citizen’s filings in the case are available here.