Saturday, March 26, 2005

Tell FEC you support free speech online

The FEC is ready to attempt to abridge the free speech rights of bloggers. An editorial in the Manchester Union Leader, points out the direction the FEC is planning on taking.

"In short, the six-member FEC shows no burning zeal for regulating Internet-based political speech made by private citizens who are not part of a political campaign. Its new rules are not intended to apply to independent bloggers. But there are two important catches.

The first is that the campaign finance laws compel the FEC to regulate speech that is made in coordination with a candidate or party. The question is, what might the FEC, Congress or the courts consider coordination when it comes to blogging?

Would a campaign volunteer or staffer have to report any blogging in support of his boss as an in-kind contribution? If a blogger works as a consultant on a campaign, as happened last year, would the blog be subject to FEC regulation?

The second catch is this: Now that campaign finance laws have infiltrated the Internet, what might Congress do to see that existing or new laws be made to silence criticism of candidates? The McCain-Feingold law was written explicitly to muzzle critics of Congress. There is every reason to expect that Congress would love to muzzle bloggers if at all possible. "
This is the first step down that slippery slope to the loss of free speech rights of bloggers. The editorial concludes with:
"The FEC is accepting comment on the proposed rules, which be read at The FEC . A letter opposing the expansion of campaign regulations to bloggers could help prevent that frightening scenario from ever happening."
Remember, if they can silence the blogosphere, how long will it be before they attempt to silence any critic? I urge you to tell the FEC hands off the blogosphere. Tell your elected officials as well. - Sailor

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