Freedom of Blogging

I don’t know how we missed this between the dueling hurricanes and the war and the Roberts hearings, but apparently the FEC is working on “regulations that would extend the nation’s campaign finance and spending limits to the Web.

Bloggers, at least the ones able to pay attention to this issue (what with the war and the Roberts hearings and and and) responded in a predicitable manner stating that the proposed new regulations amount to suppression of first amendment rights.

The proposed regulations, which I’m going to try to find time to read, are here. There’s a decent starter Q and A here.

Since I just stumbled across this this morning on Bloglines – they’ve submitted a statement to the commission – I’m still digesting the implications. Still, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, right? This issue loudly calls for our vigilance – and perhaps our collective and indvidual action. We should use our voices while we still have them.

As with most civil rights erosion, this isn’t likely to hit us overnight. But with Roberts, the mystery justice sure to be on the bench any minute now and an open seat to be filled by another Bush nominee the prognosis for how this issue will play out before the Supreme Court isn’t good. We’re unlikely to get another Justice Douglas: “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”

2 thoughts on “Freedom of Blogging”

  1. As a former FEC attorney, here’s my take on this: Brad Smith (the interviewee in the “Q and A”) is not a reliable or objective source of information on this or any issue. He’s the Commissioner who was confirmed, a la John Bolton, despite the fact that as an academic he had called for the Commission to be abolished! True, Scott Thomas (the Democratic Commissioner quoted in the news story) has probably never met a restriction on political campaigning he didn’t like, but the other two Democrats on the Commission are much more moderate. There is a reson that Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the FEC has to include the internet in its regulations: without any regulation it will eventually come to pass that political operatives will find ways to pass corporate money to politicians via coordinated advertising, spam, etc. (Also lets keep in mind that Judge Kollar-Kotelly is a politically savvy moderate Democrat; I’m inclined to think that she knows of what she speaks). The DeLay indictment might lead some to think that Republicans are the more agressive party when it comes to pushing the limits of campaign finance rules. So lets treat this “sky is falling” babble by the likes of Brad Smith with the scepticism that it deserves.

  2. I remain both sceptical and hopeful that there won’t be free speech fallout. As a former FEC attorney, do you have a recommended resource for learning more about this issue? It’s easy to find stuff from the EFF/Creative Commons side of things, but I’m also interested in informed moderate commentary. (Not that I’d ever provide that myself, but I do value it as a source of information.)

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