The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has an idea that seems to verge quite close to being an act of suppressing freedom of speech with a new $300 “business privilege license” that all bloggers in Philadelphia will be charged if they want to keep writing online. 

All local Philadelphia bloggers will have to pay for the privilege license regardless of whether or not they make any money from their blogs.  Even if a person writes a blog as a hobby, just for fun, or for a personal creative outlet — they’ll have to cough up the $300 to keep blogging.

The online buzz about Philadelphia’s new “business privilege license” is calling it a violation of free speech citing the fact that only people who can afford to pay the $300 license fee will have the ability to express their thoughts on the heretofore free-flow of online information and conversation on the social web that was born of user-generated content and citizen journalism.

MSNBC.com republished an article by Teresa Masterson of NBCPhiladelphia.com, where Masterson makes the following keen observations:

“Blogger Marilyn Bess, whose Ms. Philly Organic Blog has made her a whopping $50 over the past few years, went to the city’s tax amnesty program to explain that she makes pennies on her hobby. They told her to hire an accountant, she told the City Paper. In an economy where jobs are sparse and people try to make ends meet with part-time jobs, taxing the independent, scrappy freelancers and bloggers seems counterproductive. But the emptying of bloggers’ wallets may not be the worst result of these taxes. With the city’s charge being more than what most bloggers make, their voices could be silenced, as the extra expense is enough to discourage many from even having a blog.”

The story even made the news as you can see in the video below:

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video.

What do you think?  How can bloggers fight similar tactics from spreading to other cities?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.