You have permission to edit this article.
Edit

Romero Pulls 'Fetid Garbage' Bill

  • Updated
  • 0
  • 2 min to read
Andrea Romero pulls right to be forgotten act

Andrea Romero backed off her proposed legislation to censor the media which would have forced publishers to remove unflattering content upon request. She is shown listening during a community meeting about early childhood education legislation in August 2018 on the Northern New Mexico College campus.

In a legislative first, freshman Rep. Andrea Romero, D-46 Santa Fe, asked the Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives to table House Bill 437, the “Right to be Forgotten Act & Private Info,” amid public backlash from the media and First Amendment activists.

The bill required that “a publisher shall remove inaccurate, irrelevant, inadequate or excessive content regarding an individual, and any links or indexes to that content within thirty days of the date of receipt of a request to do so from that individual.”

According to the bill, information that falls into the inaccurate, irrelevant, inadequate or excessive category could include anything that is no longer relevant to public discourse that could be considered as harming an individual’s reputation.

By that definition, content about Romero herself could have been considered for removal, including an August 2018 Santa Fe New Mexican article that reported an audit revealed her consulting company had received $26,862 in “improper expenditure payments” from the Regional Coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory Communities.

At the time, Romero said she had not knowingly violated any standards and had paid back the money after learning of the error.

Regardless, if HB 437 had become law, it is possible Romero could have used the act to force the newspaper to remove the article, or any mention of the incident in the future.

More concerning is that publishers who failed to comply with requests to remove information could have faced fines of $250 per day, more than twice what public entities are fined for not complying with Inspection of Public Records Act requests.

Romero, when contacted prior to the legislative session for an interview, declined to speak either in person or via phone, and instead requested all questions be sent to her via email.

In a Jan. 11 email, Romero listed multiple pieces of legislation she planned to sponsor, but did not mention anything concerning the right to be forgotten bill she introduced on Jan. 31.

She also did not mention privacy concerns in a paragraph concerning her main areas of focus.

After Romero introduced the bill, she again declined to speak via phone, and requested any questions be sent via email. An email sent Jan. 31, requesting an interview has not received any response.

Public outcry from the news reporters and first amendment advocates was swift and brutal for the freshman representative.

“This is maybe the worst pile of fetid garbage hardly veiled by proposed legislation I’ve ever seen,” New Mexico In Depth Criminal Justice Reporter Jeff Proctor wrote Feb. 1 on Twitter. “Ever. And I’ve seen some pretty gnarly piles of fetid garbage hardly veiled by proposed legislation in my day.”

That afternoon, Romero issued a statement claiming the bill was designed to stop revenge porn and cyber bullying.

“The intent of the bill was to protect victims of revenge porn, cyber bullying, and others,” she said in the statement. “I understand that the language was far more sweeping than intended, and I would never want to – in any way – undermine the 1st Amendment. Media plays an important role in Democracy and I respect and honor their contribution to public debate.”

It’s unclear why a bill allegedly designed to protect victims of revenge porn and cyber bullying did not include either term in the definitions or text of the bill. Also unclear is what “others” Romero was allegedly trying to protect.

Requests for comment following her statement went unanswered as of press time.

Enjoy reading the SUN online? Then you'll love the print version. This is just one of the 26 local news, opinion, arts and sports stories published in the Feb. 7, 2019 edition. To see the rest, buy a copy from one of our vendors on the street or at one of these locations.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.