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FEC May Regulate Online Political Activity

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the hard-to-regulate-some-but-not-more dept.

Censorship 302

jgarzik writes "A recent federal court ruling ordered the U.S. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to rewrite rules that currently exempt, rather than regulate, political ads and speech on the Internet. Well, it's looking more and more likely that the FEC will not be able to avoid some amount of Internet regulation. I always thought that freedom of speech originated in part because the framers wanted to protect political speech. I guess I was being naive..."

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'Bout time (3, Funny)

dupper (470576) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514706)

I demand equal time in flamewars! No "keRry SI teH SUxx0rS omgROfLmaolololoOLOL!!!21!1@11!" should ever go unanswered!

Re:'Bout time (3, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515060)

I know that was a joke, but I think that is the point of adding regulation. If so how the hell do they propose regulating my speech (esp. if I move my server overseas)?
-nB

Does this mean that Politicians.... (3, Funny)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514712)

Won't be able to lie anymore on the internet?

Re:Does this mean that Politicians.... (3, Insightful)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514730)

They'll be the only ones then.

Nah, remember, (3, Insightful)

TreadOnUS (796297) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514741)

campaign finance laws place no restrictions on polititcians, only select voters. Politicians are still free to lie. ;-)

Let me just say,... (2, Funny)

nharmon (97591) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514721)

politics stink.

* In order to conform to future FEC regulations on online political speech: I'm nharmon, and I approve this message.

Re:Let me just say,... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514816)

Then it is about time we changed the system, don't you think?

Make politics smell good again -- http://www.badnarik.org/

Re:Let me just say,... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514964)

You know, maybe I'm totally wrong, but I feel the need to vent.

One of our local politicians has been running TV commercials where he stands up there and tells you about his platform. Then, at the end he says, "I'm Joe Blow, and I approve this message."

Huh? You just fucking told me the message! You don't need to approve it, it's implied! Bush says that at the end of his commercials because he doesn't do his own voice-overs.

I just don't think I can vote for Joe Blow knowing that neither he nor anyone his staff are able to figure this out, but rather just repeat what the national candidates say even if it doesn't make sense in the context.

-Cranky AC

Irstfay Ostpay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514725)

Porcine Latin?

Just think of all the jobs created... (1)

TreadOnUS (796297) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514727)

by the new bureaucracy needed to regulate and enforce the Campaign Finance laws.

Freedom of speech issues (2, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515150)

I am not sure that bloggers should be so regulated any more than word of mouth campaigning by various groups should be blocked.

However, it seems to me that there is a difference between free expression and large-money campaigning before elections. So while I would not be unhappy about regulations regarding paid advertisements, it seems to me that blogging and other forms of free expression should be protected. It should be noted, however, that this is not a big issue.

Also political and commercial spam should be equally banned under the law, IMO. Mass-emailing opt-out or even one-time campaigns should not be an acceptable practice in business or politics. IMO, we should ensure that all such email is opt-in only.

Internet ads should be treated like TV and print (5, Insightful)

petersam (754644) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514728)

If the FEC is currently regulating radio, TV and print ads, it should do so for Internet. The regulation has to do with coordination between candidates and PACs as well as spending levels and sources. The first amendment was not meant to protect your right to say anything, anywhere, anytime, so yes, you are naive. Supreme Court justices of all political bents have ruled that their are limits. In this case, the FEC helps provide a level playing field to *protect* our democracy from people yielding undue influence based on the size of their pockets.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514736)

The first amendment was not meant to protect your right to say anything, anywhere, anytime...

Actually.. it was...

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514766)

Actually, the First Amendment is meant to protect your right to say anything, anywhere, anytime.

"There ought to be limits to freedom." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514884)

The president pretty much spelled out how he feels about the issue.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (3, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514774)

So how do you stop "anonymous" campaign sites springing up and propagating by spam or google-bomb?

gwbushsucks.cx or similar (made-up URL, not a real site as far as I am aware) might be hard to trace to an identifiable political body

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (2, Insightful)

mefus (34481) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514863)

gwbushsucks.cx or similar (made-up URL, not a real site as far as I am aware) might be hard to trace to an identifiable political body

I see no problems with that, so long as everyone is able to do it.

The only threat the printed word has is that it can be controlled, and that's just what the FEC is proposing.

The internet is different. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514847)

You can't get guaranteed exposure for your organization on the web, no matter how many dollars you shell out. The only thing regulation would do is cut off information from those who wanted it in the first place.

And I don't see how the rules of campaign finance don't already apply to the web.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (5, Insightful)

sommerfeld (106049) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514859)

History has shown time and time again that it's hard to write laws and regulations to "level a playing field" without accdentally writing in exploitable loopholes. It's really the same sort of problem as the difficulty of writing secure software.

Attempts to do this may well backfire and amplify the power of those with deep pockets -- they will be in a much better position to afford the lawyer time to look for loopholes in the laws and regulations, use them, and then defend that use in court.

And as the regulations are incrementally patched to fix each loophole, they will increase in complexity, increasing the risks that the well-intentioned little guy will accidentally break them and end up muzzled.

There's no good answer here, alas.

I feel much better about regulations requiring a public audit trail of where the money came from and where it went, rather than attempting to create complex rules and "soft", "hard", etc., classes of money and donors.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514872)

1, This is a republic, not a democracy. and 2, the framers explicitely stated the intent of the first amendment was specifically to protect freedom of political speech. This was in responce to it being criminal, and treasonous to speak ill of the king.

If you genuinly believe that finance reform requires muting constituents, then I suggest you relocate to cuba, where you can enjoy a form of government that agrees with you fully.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (4, Insightful)

Brian_Ellenberger (308720) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514883)

The first amendment was not meant to protect your right to say anything, anywhere, anytime, so yes, you are naive.

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What part of "Congress shall make no law" don't you understand? It didn't say "Congress shall make no law except where it *really really* needs to. You either have free speech or your don't. Once you start limiting, there is no stopping how much you limit it.

Brian

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (4, Insightful)

petersam (754644) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515002)

The Supreme Court, the group the Constitution created to interpret the laws, correctly have held that there are limits to speech that a free and safe society must have. The old "can't yell fire in a crowded theater" adage and inciting a riot. I'm not saying that limits on political speech fit in there, but if the FEC has been held as constutionally allowed to regulate political speech, then no matter how sarcastic you try to be with "what part of...don't you understand", it doesn't change how the U.S. works. I completely disagree that free speech is black and white as you say. It sounds like you would allow someone to say libelous, slanderous, or "fire in a theater" speech. Sorry - the slippery slope you see doesn't exist.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (5, Insightful)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515085)

"The Constitution admittedly has a few defects and blemishes, but it still seems a hell of a lot better than the system we have now." - Robert Anton Wilson

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (3, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515093)

The Supreme Court, the group the Constitution created to interpret the laws...

Wrong. That power was self-invested by the Supreme Court in the Marbury vs. Madison case in 1803, as an act of partisan politics against the Jeffersonian Republicans. Nowhere in the Constitution is any court given the power to "interpret" law. ...correctly have held that there are limits to speech that a free and safe society must have.

So, what you're saying is... the First Amendent is wrong? That is what you're saying, because the First Amendment patently disagrees with you.

Now if we're gonna argue about whether or not the First Amendment means what it says, then I'll just go ahead and suggest we ought to make the Presbyterian Church in America the offical religion of the US, since the Constitution isn't supposed to be taken literally, or anything.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10515111)

This is why the Supreme Court, composed of many people much smarter than you, gets to interpret the law, and not you.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515112)

The slippery slope will exist if I post non-slanderous content on my site negative of a major candidate and I am forcibly shut down, address the issue to the courts as an abridgement of free speech and then do not win.

just 2c
-nB

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10515026)

Great - just so long as you apply the 2nd ammendment in the same light.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (3, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515107)

Once you start limiting, there is no stopping how much you limit it.

That is known as a slippery slope fallacy. There are, as another post puts it (in different words), reasonable and unreasonable limits. There are also different levels of protections based on what kind of speech.

While your argument has a point, free speech doesn't protect you from a libel or slander suit if you said something that was libelous or slanderous. The incitement claim is pretty valid too. You can't expect to use your freedom to deliberately hurt others without merit and expect there be no legal consequences. The constitution apparently can't be used to protect a right to lie, there really doesn't seem to be one.

Another example, if you take your first Amendment claim and apply it to the second, wouldn't you argue that the Federal government has no claim to prevent you from owning fully automatic machine guns? Or SAMs or fighter airplanes for that matter?

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (1)

1ucius (697592) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515136)

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court overturned the 1st amendment last year.
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/03pdf/02-16 74.pdf

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515159)

What part of "Congress shall make no law" don't you understand?

You're taking the naive approach to freedom of speech. There is a concept that has been around for a very long time, and which the courts have hammered out quite clearly as the standard interpretation of the first ammendment called "protected speech".

If, for example, protected speech included everything you say or communicate in any way, then assault WOULD NOT BE ILLEGAL. Assault is clearly a case of laws being passed which restrict speech. Why should I not be allowed to say, "I'm going to kill you at 5PM tomorrow"? Why? because it's not protected speech.

Political speech is, for the most part, studiously protected, but there are strong exceptions when it comes to the funding that speech and consuming massive amounts of advertising "real eastate". These are reasonable measures taken to prevent one canidate from "buying" and election (and, in fact, I feel they're not strong enough as they do not prevent a small handfull of candidates from locking in an election among them).

If free speech were an absolute, a large fraction of the laws in this country at the federal and state levels would have been shot down by the Supreme Court over a century ago.

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (3, Insightful)

Undertaker43017 (586306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514907)

"The first amendment was not meant to protect your right to say anything, anywhere, anytime"

Actually the first amendment does allow you to say anything, anywhere, anytime, but due to the courts believing that the framers of the consitution couldn't have possible meant ALL speech, they have contrued it to mean what you said. So know we live in a censored society, where speech is anything BUT free!

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515051)

"In this case, the FEC helps provide a level playing field to *protect* our democracy from people yielding undue influence based on the size of their pockets."

So I'm the only one here that thinks that having incumbent politicians in charge of voter education is a really, really bad idea?

Or then there's this angle: If citizens can't be trusted to make the "correct" decision come election time in the middle of a sea of misinformation, why are we even bothering to let them vote at all?

Re:Internet ads should be treated like TV and prin (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515120)

The first amendment was not meant to protect your right to say anything, anywhere, anytime, so yes, you are naive.

True enough. However, the First Amendment WAS meant to protect your right to political speech, i.e. advertising in favour of your favoured candidate.

This particular slippery slope reached its own inversion point when the BCFRA (Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, aka McCain-Feingold) became law a couple years ago. Since that Act was specifically aimed at regulating political speech (can't mention a candidate by name within 60 days of a General Election, for instance, except as specifically allowed, i.e. in newscasts, or as regulated by the FEC), and was largely approved by the People, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial branches, it would seem that the First Amendment has been redefined as being (nearly) unlimited for everything but political purposes, but tightly restricted when it comes to poitics.

Apparently (-1, Troll)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514732)

Apparently freedom of speech only applied to Fox "News". The rest of us are no more free than anyone else who lives under a Fascist government.

Re:Apparently (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514772)

Fox News is the only channel that practices freedom of speech, the rest report only what is dictated by their owners.

FEC announces regulating politics on the internet. (1)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514734)

In other news, the servers of an online community called Slashdot were bombed by the USAF for "gross violations of goverment regulations"

Film at 11. Stolen Honor at first, Fahrenheit 9/11 after commercial break.

Re:FEC announces regulating politics on the intern (0, Offtopic)

deanj (519759) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514804)

Better yet, Fahrenheit 9/11 first, then Fahrenhype 9/11 [overstock.com] next. Or they can just buy it. [overstock.com]

The Internet is too big (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514742)

How do they expect to regulate something that is beyond huge? Sarcastic comment to follow: Oh, I know, they can bring in Internet-2, getting rid of Internet-1.

Re:The Internet is too big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514802)

They only need to regulate the parts of the internet that people actually look at.

Re:The Internet is too big (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514810)

A lot of people look at Slashdot. Should we be worried? (The intent of this was to sound humourous.)

Re:The Internet is too big (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514827)

Sure, but I didn't realize that there was political speech on the porn sites.

Re:The Internet is too big (1)

mefus (34481) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514942)

How do they expect to regulate something that is beyond huge?

I could be wrong but after a scanning the article it appears the FEC just wants to extend spending limits to the WWW.

How the Republicrats can pervert that to maintain their monopoly on the control of governance wasn't discussed, though, so let the speculation begin!

Re:The Internet is too big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10515162)

I don't care how, as long as they do. I'm for slow steady consistent growth of the economy and jobs, not a Clintonesque and Gorey climb up a wall, then crash, fall, pumph hit the ground and everyone's unemployed again.

Yanno this is all a democrap's fault, Gore invented this damned internet in the first place.

If you're going to have rules... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514747)

The rules have to be fair. For example, there are rules about domain registration, some of which are enforced by the government. The rules should stipulate fairness to all candidates. There probably should be rules about what names candidate can/can't have for domains. It would be somewhat unfair and misleading for the Bush/Cheney campaign to be running Kerry-Edwards.com.

aQazaQa

Re:If you're going to have rules... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514961)

Actually, that domain is owned by a guy whose name happens to be Kerry Edwards (I don't know if the dash is in his domain, or if he sold it to the Kerry campaign).

He was on TV about a month ago, and he said he had no intention of selling it.

Re:If you're going to have rules... (1)

mefus (34481) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514994)

The rules have to be fair.

I agree about your controls on the candidates selection of domains insofar as they don't take those their opponents would have. I don't think, though, that any individual or grassroots organization should be restricted. And that's where the confusion and subterfuge begins, precisely where the individual has a chance to be heard.

Complicated. So: I don't think the FEC should get involved where it is unclear and could restrict the individuals right to be heard with as strong a voice as the Republicrats'.

BULLSHIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514748)

The internet is _the one and only_ place where everybody has equal access. There is no need to regulate it.

Re:BULLSHIT (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514778)

You're nuts...

Are you saying that if bill gates wanted to spend $500,000,000.00 in advertising on google, amazon, ebay, msn, slashdot, etc., that you'd be able to match him to express _your_ opinion?

i doubt it.

Re:BULLSHIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514921)

There are ads on the Internet now?

Chess_the_cat. Banned. Again.

President Forbes? (2, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515138)

Are you saying that if bill gates wanted to spend $500,000,000.00 in advertising on google, amazon, ebay, msn, slashdot, etc., that you'd be able to match him to express _your_ opinion?

So, why didn't we have President Forbes? If money can buy an election that way, why did it not happen? Remember, he ran before McCain-Feingold.

Re:BULLSHIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514806)

No one's proposing regulating the internet. They're proposing that money spent on political banners be subject to the same finance laws as the money spent on TV ads. That's a _good_ thing.

I Slashdot broken? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514751)

I'm having a hell of a time getting connected.

Ya, I already know that Slashcode is broken, I'm asking about Slashdot.

I nominate the McCain-Feingold... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514753)

...incumbent protection act as the second shittiest piece of legislation in recent years, right behind the patriot act.

Re:I nominate the McCain-Feingold... (3, Interesting)

coltrane679 (118528) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514983)

BINGO, you've got it. Supported by "progressives", passed by a Republican Congress, signed by GWB--the warning signs were all there. Now blessed by the Supreme Court, it will serve as the cornerstone of new legal edifices to "protect" our beloved "two-party system" against new media and information technologies.

pre 9/11 mentality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514754)

"I guess I was being naive..."

you are not being naive, you are just looking at it with a "pre september 11 mentality"

didnt you get the memo? political statements that are not pre approved by the republicrats and the demopublicans must be written by terrorists and thus are evil.

if you dont believe me, just ask king bush. he says "if you are not with us you are against us"

so what does that tell you.

They are insane! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514758)

How are they possibly going to regulate content originating from all over the world?

These people are idiots!

Silly rabbit, Trix are for... (5, Interesting)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514764)

I just got a note from my neighborhood association stating that, while the neighborhood covenant specifically prohibits them, the Supreme Court has ruled that signs for political candidates are protected speech and cannot be overruled by neighborhood agreements (contractual or not).

If they're going to regulate political speech from candidates, that's one thing. That's not regulation of the Internet, but regulation of campaigns no matter where they are executed. Regulating political speech on the Internet for the regular user won't happen - not likely in theory and definitely not in reality.

Just applys to Candidates not individuals such as (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514829)

Just go to Google Groups aka USENET aka NNTP servers. Search for KERRY SUCKS or BUSH SUCKS (might add President to the later.)

This is only applying to the political candidates - not individuals such as most of us.

Slashdot does it again! (5, Informative)

rpdillon (715137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514765)

If you RTFA, once again, you'll find the submitter has no idea what they're talking about:

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington ordered the FEC to rewrite 15 rules, including regulations exempting Internet ads from the 2002 campaign finance law. The law bars outside groups from coordinating television and radio advertisements with candidates.

To exempt certain types of communications runs completely afoul of this basic tenet of campaign finance law,'' Kollar- Kotelly said in a 157-page ruling. Two members of Congress filed the complaint that led to the decision.

This has entirly to do with campaign finance, and whether Internet ads are included (or excluded) from campaign finance. It has nothing to do with free speech.

Re:Slashdot does it again! (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514811)

You're right that it has to do with finance, but it's an extension of the McCain-Feingold regulation of political speech to the Internet. Yes, it is about free speech on the Internet just as it's about free speech on TV.

read parent (and RTFA) (1)

drmike0099 (625308) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514830)

The parent is right, the poster didn't actually read the article they were posting about. If you want campaign finance reform to work, even the slightly-less-broken one we have now, then it needs to apply everywhere.

Money in politics is like Radon in my house, seeps in through every tiny crack and kills me slowly...

Re:read parent (and RTFA) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10515140)

Sure. Because God forbid we'd ever want the politicians to be held accountable to groups that actually care/know about issues that affect them.

Re:Slashdot does it again! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514910)

This has entirly to do with campaign finance, and whether Internet ads are included (or excluded) from campaign finance. It has nothing to do with free speech.

That's right! The First Amendment is about freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

If the founding fathers really wanted it to apply to TV and the intarnet, they would've said so!

Re:Slashdot does it again! (4, Informative)

Peyna (14792) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514982)

This has entirly to do with campaign finance, and whether Internet ads are included (or excluded) from campaign finance. It has nothing to do with free speech

Campaign finance law is all about free speech. Another poster commented that political speech by private parties is still protected; but that speech by candidates for office is in a position to be regulated. Accepting that statement as true, if you have actually read any campaign finance law (specifically the McCain - Feingold Act passed recently), it specifically restricts the speech of private citizens, basically prohibitting them from mentioning a specific candidate in an ad, among other things.

(Not sure if the "Gun Shows Elect ..." ad is airing anywhere other than Ohio, but the ad makes a definite point of mentioning this restriction on their freedom of speech.)

To reiterate, campaign finance reform specifically restricts the freedom of speech of private citizens, and their ability to make statements through the use of public broadcasts.

Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 [fec.gov] , specifically the section on Electioneering Communications.

it has everything to do with free speech (2, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515049)

This has entirly to do with campaign finance, and whether Internet ads are included (or excluded) from campaign finance. It has nothing to do with free speech.

"Campaign finance" is a proxy for regulating speech. It's what the political class is using to stifle criticism. There are jail terms associated with broadcasting a political message that regulators do not approve of, now. The framers must be turning over in their graves.

This is the very speech that the 1st amendment was designed to protect. Not nude dancing, not obscenity, not flag burning, but political speech is what they were trying to protect. How can the 1st amendment be so expansive as to include those other things, but not the intended object of protection?

Re:it has everything to do with free speech (2, Interesting)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515118)

"Campaign finance" is a proxy for regulating speech. It's what the political class is using to stifle criticism. There are jail terms associated with broadcasting a political message that regulators do not approve of, now. The framers must be turning over in their graves.

Exactly. If you put up a web page that advocates voting for someone, that can be called an "ad" and your cost to put the page up counted as a "contribution" to the candidate you support. These contributions are strictly limited, and ad content explicitly controlled, as well as time-restricted, so if you have a "Vote XXXXXXX" anywhere on your page, better take it down or face the "Campaign Finance Reform Police".

Your money has no place in elections.

forward, comrades! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514770)

I sorta like the INGSOC logo and look forward to the return of black uniforms, patent leather and skulls.

Camo green is so passe.

Whew! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514776)

I had a weird feeling after I clicked the link, because there was no space below it. Like this gag order had already started.

Guess I've never been the first clicker. I could've gotten "omfgwtfbbq first post!!!!"

Anyway, let's see the FCC try. I'll just criticize American politics from overseas!!!

Lest we forget the demographics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514782)

Now which party has used the online medium more effectively?

What is the demographic of the Republican Party? Looking at the data on Retro vs. Metro it would appear that the Metro's have much higher penetration of internet usage.

If you shut the door on political speech on the net you'll hurt the Democrats.

And the money? (4, Insightful)

general_re (8883) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514794)

It seems to me that, typically, the people who complain the most vociferously about restrictions to political speech are also the ones who complain most vociferously about the presumed influence special-interest money has on the political process. Can't have it both ways. Free and unfettered speech means living with big money, and eliminating money from the equation necessarily means restricting free speech.

No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514812)

Fuck that. They have already gone entirely too far with the censorship.

I can't believe that the American people will continue to stand for much more. I know I won't.

Re:No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514838)

What are you going to do? I mean, seriously. I am guessing that 90% of the population could care less. That just leaves you and a tiny minority that are not "going to take it anymore." So? What exactly are you going to do?

Re:No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514925)

What/however you do, take Texas, and California with you. Texas has been dying to leave the union since the alamo, and well California hosts Hollywood and Los Angeles.

Not "Political Speech" (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514819)

I always thought that freedom of speech originated in part because the framers wanted to protect political speech. I guess I was being naive...

Yes, they wanted to protect political speech. That is speech from a private citizen regarding the government. That is currently still supposedly the most protected speech there is. Someone running for office is *not* involved with political speech. The candidate is a public figure that is involved with the government from the moment that they start running. As such, they are regulated similarly to a political figure.

I know it is a contrary to common sense, but speech related to running for a political office made by the candidate is not political speech.

Re:Not "Political Speech" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514975)

I know it is a contrary to common sense, but speech related to running for a political office made by the candidate is not political speech.

I know it is contrary to common sense, but white is black, and black is white. Really.

Will this affect blogging? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514834)

Blogging has become a huge source of political information lately http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2004/03/0 2ky/A1-blogs0302-11134.html [courier-journal.com] , will these new laws stiffle the blogging community that has flourished this past year?

doubletalk (2, Interesting)

fadethepolice (689344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514839)

From the article:

"I don't think anybody here wants to impede the free flow of information over the Internet," Weintraub said. "The question then is, where do you draw the line?"

This statement makes no sense. I could see regulating the flow of money, but that is obviously not the issue here. The issue is at what point do they impose rules on SPEECH. The money will still flow from the corporations to the political parties, but we will no longer be allowed our little sandbox of freedom.

Story time! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514845)

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was
lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a
boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you
help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour
ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied,
"You're in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet
above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level.
You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude
and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a
Democrat."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything
you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea
what to do with your information, and I'm still lost.
Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a
Republican."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you
know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where
you are or where you're going. You've risen to where
you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a
promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you
expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the
same position you were in before we met but, somehow,
now it's my fault."

Re:Story time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10514976)

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was
lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a
boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you
help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour
ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied,
"You're in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet
above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level.
You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude
and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a
Republican."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything
you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea
what to do with your information, and I'm still lost.
Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a
Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you
know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where
you are or where you're going. You've risen to where
you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a
promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you
expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the
same position you were in before we met but, somehow,
now it's my fault."

Re:Story time! (5, Funny)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515023)

"She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below."

"You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

And none of them thought it was peculiar that the man was in a boat in the middle of the Texas desert, thust demonstrating the complete ineptitude of both parties.

Here's a wrench for you (1, Interesting)

karlandtanya (601084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514870)

It isn't speech at all.


It's a file that I have on my computer.


I told some other people where I keep my file, and I let them come look at if they want.


If there's too many people looking at my file on my computer, I may pay my friend with a bigger computer to keep my file for me. And if some people want to look at my file, I may send them to my friend, who is keeping my file on his computer.


So, you see, it isn't speech at all.


It's property.

Re:Here's a wrench for you (1)

atta1 (558607) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514978)

Ahhh... but what about DeCSS? If we as group argue that our website is a file and not speech, we cannot also argue that raw code is speech and not a file. We can't have it both ways.

This is a direct result of finance reform (3, Insightful)

jludwig (691215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514874)

Don't blame the FEC, these guys are following orders - this shows how silly the notion of campaign finance reform/regulation really is. Instead of having the desired effect (make the contest more fair, I suppose), you quickly find that people are clever enough to cheat the system. Sinclair's recent "news" documentary about Kerry (http://www.theiowachannel.com/politics/3803572/de tail.html [theiowachannel.com] ) *and* Moorse's F911 both fall into this category, both sides are doing it. Either one is really just a long political advertisement.

Its just like a complicated tax code; people find, exploit and profit off of loopholes and an unneccessarily complicated system. Make the system simple (flat tax for example) and stupid things like this don't happen. Let the candidates take as much money from whoever they want and spend it in any way they please and you'll find these awful "side-effects" of dumb legislation go away. You can't tell people how to spend their money and suggesting that gagging political organizations (or in the Sinclair/Moorse cases passionate individuals) during some artifical timeframe before an election is appropriate is simply unacceptable.

Jurisdiction (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514896)

How can the FEC 'regulate' political web sites that are hosted in other countries than the US?

so now online's "safe" just like tv and elections? (1)

the_REAL_sam (670858) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514902)

oh, yea, so they can stop corruption in elections like they did with the federal election process and television campaigning?

(+1 sarcastic)
(-1 funny)

Just a reminder (2, Informative)

fontkick (788075) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514908)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

"Abridge (v. t.) To make shorter; to shorten in duration; to lessen; to diminish; to curtail"

Someone circle the word "abridge" in the dictionary and mail it to Congress.

RTFA (4, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514912)

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington ordered the FEC to rewrite 15 rules, including regulations exempting Internet ads from the 2002 campaign finance law. The law bars outside groups from coordinating television and radio advertisements with candidates.


The court ruled that political advertisements on the Internet weren't exempt from a 2002 law that required them to be financed with federally regulated funds.


They're talking about regulating the ads used by the different campaigns and them working with groups like 509's.

Hardly a "OMG MY RIGHTS" issue.

Re:RTFA (1)

the morgawr (670303) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515054)

Let's say I really don't like one candidate because I disagree with him on a particular issue. Let's also say that because internet advertising is comparably cheep, I buy a run a banner ads that expresses my view. Under this regulation I am restricted in certain ways from doing just that. So......

OMG MY RIGHTS ARE BEING TAKEN AWAY!!!!!!

Here we go again (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514913)

Another attepted by the unknowing to led what they do not understand. They will pass their laws, they will rattle their chains, they will bang their fist and in the end what will it mean. Zip and shit is what it will mean.

Look at that past few years of what all the attemps to control the Internet have done. Not much. They have tried to stop music on the net. It is still there just as available as it always was. They have tried to stop the spread of pornographics, legal and illegal, it failed. Porn is just as available as before. They have tried to curb pirated software, that has failed too.

All their rule and regulations may take out chunks, such as napster, but in the end what did it too. Everything that has been baned or regulated is still just as available to those of us who know where to get it.

There has been attempts to control free speach on the net before. They failed and this one will fail too. It is that simple.

Re:Here we go again (2, Funny)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514941)

God, when I get on my high horse my spelling goes to shit. Sorry about that.

Re:Here we go again (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515154)

Same Here! Has to do with emotional response and the effects on our endocrine system. CALM DOWN,BREATH DEEPLY, COMPOSE YOURSELF, then..TYPE LIKE A MADMAN!Besides, it shows you really care. The fact you care and go through the effort to be heard is IMPORTANT, whether anyone agrees with you or not. If you present your viewpoint well, you might bring a new outlook to someone that will change the way they look at the issue, adding to your side. Mindless Foaming At The Mouth(TM) tends to scare people off.

Just look twords McCain-Finegold Finance Reform (2, Insightful)

nberardi (199555) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514934)

Just look twords McCain-Finegold Campaign Finance Reform, where they restricted a canidate from running any ads one month before the election. But all these other groups such as the MediaFund, MoveOn.org, VietnamVets, etc. don't have to abide by those rules. So in essence the canidate can't go out and use free speech to promote him/her self (i.e. bash the other guy with attack ads at the time it matters the most). But groups that don't nessisary relay what the campaign beleives can go out and bash the other guy.

This is a huge problem, because the power has shifted from groups that tried to accomplish something (i.e. NAACP, AARP, etc.) no longer are in the power seats of the campaign. Now it is a group that only wants to accomplish getting the other guy out of the way and putting their guy in office.

McCain-Finegold was a big slap across the face of the founders, because John McCain didn't want to be critized so much like he was in the 2000 election.

So this is nothing new, the people just have to throw these guys out of office that want to limit any kind of free speech. Howard Stern has just as many rights to be on the radio as Rush Limbaugh, and the option to change the channel is always there if you don't like what the person is saying. WE NEED TO STOP LOOKING TWORDS THE WHINY PEOPLE THAT WANT TO GET RID OF SOMETHING INSTEAD OF CHANGING THE CHANNEL.

I say send a message, by hitting them where it hurts, their wallet. Don't listen to the show, so the advertising numbers will go down and pull out.

I am starting to think it would be a lot better if we paid polititions to stay out of office. :)

503? (1)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514943)

I guess that's why Slashdot's been 503 so much lately, it's the FEC regulating the Politics topic.

I'm Embarassed (2, Interesting)

Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514950)

I've already seen ads designed to walk a fine line on campaign finance. They go something like this:

Candidate B is a bad man! Click here to help us raise money to stop him by donating to Candidate A.

The message is clearly intended to sway the viewer, but they technically are fund raisers, not advertisements. In other words, campaign laws shouldn't apply to them in the same way they apply to TV or print ads.

I've seen these come out of both parties and their respective PACs. It is the same argument used to defend Michael Moore. "This is different because we're making money... not spending it."

I'm embarassed that our politicians and political organizations are so willing to follow the letter rather than the spirit of the law. And I'm sure we'll see many more laws trying to reign in abusers. And we are just as likely to see a lot of new creativity to skirt the laws that are implimented.

THE INTERNET WILL BECOME THE REGULATOR (1)

coyotedata (644211) | more than 9 years ago | (#10514992)

That is the future

Foreign website political ads (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515001)

They'll just put ads on the BBC website and tell the FEC to stick it.

Naive (4, Insightful)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515053)


I guess I was being naive...

What's naive is granting free speech (and all other human rights) to corporations as if they were "persons" and then wondering why the whole system went to hell. We wouldn't need this kind of regulation if only corporations were treated as the legal fiction they are. Allowing corporations to roam our society with all the rights of a person exposes us to ultra-wealthy psychopaths. [thecorporation.com]

A lot of money buys a lot of "free" speech. Real persons have no chance in hell of competing with corporations on the "free" speech playing field. It's time we recognized reality and revoked these misplaced rights and overturned the fallacy that corporations are persons.

Remember "No Face" from Spirited Away? Best to keep them out of the bath house.

"I always thought..." (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515099)

I always thought that freedom of speech originated in part because the framers wanted to protect political speech.

Well yes, that is what the framers wanted. You don't equate the FCC of 2004 with the framers of the Constitution do you?

Money != Speech (2, Insightful)

MultisSanguinisFluit (608373) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515108)

I've said this before, and I'll say it again

Money is not Speech
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