You may have heard that Steve Cooksey of Diabetes-Warrior.net received a letter back in January from the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutritionists explaining to him that he and his website were being investigated. What was Steve doing wrong, you ask? Well, Steve was sharing his story with his readers and suggesting that they might benefit from following a similar path. And he was doing it without a license! You can read all about it here.
Apparently, Steve sharing advice about diet – whether he offered it for free or charged for it – was a crime and they could take a him to court over it. After he made some changes to his website Steve was told he was in “substantial compliance” with North Carolina law and they closed the investigation. You can read more about that here.
While the North Carolina Board appears to be finished, Steve isn’t. Steve is launching a major battle for Internet freedom and free speech that could impact the millions of people that share advice online everyday, in places like blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. He’s joined the Institute for Justice in filing a lawsuit that challenges the government’s authority to censor ordinary advice and, as a memo I received from the Institute of Justice states, “seeks to answer one of the most important unresolved questions in First Amendment law: When does the government’s power to license occupations trump free speech?”
I helped Steve get started on his journey a few years ago and was proud of not only his progress, but the track he took in helping people, so it was astounding to hear that he could get shut down for offering his opinion about which foods to buy at the grocery store. Check out the Institute of Justice’s YouTube video (above), case launch page, and case backgrounder page. Needless to say, this is an important case, and one I will be following closely.