Ever since last Fall when the a court ruling required the FEC to include the Internet in its definition of public communications and to begin regulating activities on line, blogs have been very nervous and concerned exactly what outcome will prevail.
Web loggers, who pride themselves on freewheeling political activism, might face new federal rules on candidate endorsements, on-line fundraising and political ads, though bloggers who don’t take money from political groups would not be affected.
Are we supposed to believe this or is this another slippery slope of campaign finance reform? If a blogger posts for another blog that is funded by political action money what does it do to their own private blog that may be just as opinionated? Are we really supposed to believe after witnessing the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth that politicians on either side will allow blogs, people in their pajamas, to accomplish the same?
The FEC long has been reluctant to craft rules for the Internet, and it has exempted the on-line world from many regulations that apply to other media such as television and radio.
The FEC, which also is striving to clarify regulations about online volunteer campaign activity, is accepting public comments on the proposals until Friday. Hearings will be held June 28 and 29.
Here is a rather interesting dilemma. What if a politically influential blog who does not receive money is brought into court claiming they have been? The legal fees themselves would shut the free speech down as a blogger could never afford the cost to defend their freedom of speech.
The FEC also is considering whether to require Web loggers, called bloggers, to disclose whether they get money from a campaign committee or a candidate and to reveal whether they are being paid to write about certain candidates or solicit contributions on their behalf.
These rules would not affect citizens who don’t take money from political action committees or parties.
However, what if political ads are placed on a blog? What if no money is received for the ad being placed on a blog? Isn’t there an implicit benefit to the candidate for getting free advertising?
One wonders how the FEC is going to differentiate between even the large and small blog, let alone lump the blogosphere into the realm of old media.
Advocates for rules say they are necessary to prevent groups such as corporations and labor unions from exploiting loopholes.
“I think FEC needs to regulate ordinary people as lightly as possible,” said Carol Darr, director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.
But as Internet technology improves, she said, politicians, corporations and unions will “learn where to go to reach unconverted people. They will use Internet more and more. People like me who are worried about corporate and union abuse are less comfortable with that.”
Opponents of the regulations, including many bloggers, worry that freedom of speech would suffer and that the rules would have a chilling effect on the lively political discussions that occur online. FEC regulation, they say, would unfairly punish individuals, adding that nothing happened in the 2004 elections to warrant intervention.
As posted previously, The FEC Ticking Clock on Internet Freedoms, this is an issue that affects both sides on the blogosphere.
Others talking about this highly controversial topic:
Skeptic Eye says its the same old story and I would have to agree.
National Review Online, The Corner
Draft Russ Blog seems to think that there is no problem.
There is simply no reason – none – to think that the FEC should or intends to regulate blogs or other Internet communications by private citizens.
There is a fine line between private citizen and endorsing candidates on line these days. I wish things were as simple as they once were.
A pretty accurate and well shared opinion from vox populi
And the Denis DeKat’s Symposium will be heading offshore.
Update I: Mike Krempasky at Red State attempts to answer some important questions.
Update II: Love the ideas over at An American Mind
UPDATE III (6/1/05): Scared Monkeys on Connected Blogs: (VIDEO) via The Political Teen.