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Democrats Defeat Online FOS Act

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the commentary-costs dept.

Censorship 782

not so anonymous writes "The Online Freedom of Speech Act was defeated in the House of Representatives yesterday. The Act would have immunized political bloggers from having to comply with hundreds of pages of FEC rules." From the article: "In an acrimonious debate that broke largely along party lines, more than three-quarters of congressional Democrats voted to oppose the reform bill, which had enjoyed wide support from online activists and Web commentators worried about having to comply with a tangled skein of rules. The vote tally in the House of Representatives, 225 to 182, was not enough to send the Online Freedom of Speech Act to the Senate. Under the rules that House leaders adopted to accelerate the process, a two-thirds supermajority was required."

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Lovely Omission (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942442)


Ok, so I'm dusted. I see that the most liberal of parties opposes what is effectively Free Speech and the party which brought us the Patriot Act is advocating the it.

This means there's some reason other than what this post appears to say 'Hey, Democrats hate free speech!', like something has been attached which allows oil drilling in Yosemite National Park. From TFA:

The Federal Election Commission is under court order to finalize rules extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet. Unless Congress acts, the final regulations are expected to be announced by the end of the year. (They could cover everything from regulating hyperlinks to politicians' Web sites to forcing disclosure of affiliations with campaigns.)

Opponents of the reform plan mounted a last-minute effort to derail the bill before the vote on Wednesday evening. Liberal advocacy groups circulated letters warning the measure was too broad and would invite "corrupt" activities online, and The New York Times wrote in an editorial this week that "the Internet would become a free-fire zone without any limits on spending."
Ah, there's the Why, a loophole for Campaign Finance law.

The heading Democrats Defeat Online FOS Act and omission of the Why certainly colours this article. Why the omission? It appears the article poster favours websites/blogs which are covert mouthpieces of a particular interest group spouting dubious facts and leaving out highly relevant facts. Slashdot has effectively been trolled. Was this intentional, Zonk?

When black apears white or pigs appear to have sprouted wings, there's usually politics behind it, that's where Critical Thinking separates the herd. The Fine Print: We're probably not responsible for content, but in any event we are, we'll deny it.

Re:Lovely Omission (3, Insightful)

gregjmartin (806753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942476)

of course with the global-ness of the web, isn't it nuts to think that the Us can somehow enforce our laws there? If I really want to, can't I just blog to a uk site and get around all this? So opening the loop hole just formalize what's already the de facto law?

Re:Lovely Omission (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942517)

of course with the global-ness of the web, isn't it nuts to think that the Us can somehow enforce our laws there? If I really want to, can't I just blog to a uk site and get around all this? So opening the loop hole just formalize what's already the de facto law?

Oh, no doubt about it. You could have your site with .tv tld and most people wouldn't even assotiate it with Tuvalu and you could put whatever you like on it and host it in China or Cuba or Venezuela.

Re:Lovely Omission (3, Informative)

CaptCovert (868609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942650)

I know that it's still a cottage industry in many ways, but I'm surprised that web hosting companies in the US aren't up in arms about this. To eliminate Free Speech on the web would be enforcable against US companies, and could possibly send some out of business (SpeakEasy comes to mind).

Re:Lovely Omission (1)

estebanf (814656) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942699)

Oh, no doubt about it. You could have your site with .tv tld and most people wouldn't even assotiate it with Tuvalu and you could put whatever you like on it and host it in China or Cuba or Venezuela. Why is Venezuela next to China and Cuba in your statement?

Uh, that was the WHOLE POINT (3, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942477)

Sites like the Daily Kos can now be subject to campaign finance laws. Which means, essentially, their speech can be regulated during election seasons.

Re:Uh, that was the WHOLE POINT (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942512)

What are you talking about? The final Rules haven't been promulgated yet. This bill would have shaped the upcoming rules, not changed any existing rules. (Note: Rules are different from Laws/Statutes).

Re:Uh, that was the WHOLE POINT (1)

pizzaman100 (588500) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942665)

Courts have already determined that the rules apply to existing media. A recent example is the gas tax initiative in Washington State. Two radio hosts came out against the gas tax and were promoting their view over the air waves. But a judge muzzled them [159.54.227.3] by ruling that they did not have free speech rights to oppose the initiative on air, as this would be an 'in kind contribution' to the proponenents of the initiative.

Re:Uh, that was the WHOLE POINT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942532)

Only if they accept campaign money, of course. If they don't they can say anything they want. Where's the problem with that?

Re:Uh, that was the WHOLE POINT (5, Informative)

ROU Nuisance Value (253171) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942540)

And Daily KOS supported the bill's passage. [dailykos.com] The actual story is *slightly* more complicated than the /. headline would suggest.

Money and speech (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942541)

Actually, it controls their money flow: they can't be paid by certain sources to blog politically.

Then again, the court has decided that spending money is a form of speech, which is the basis of restrictions on campaign finance laws, so perhaps we're really saying the same thing.

Re:Uh, that was the WHOLE POINT (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942544)

Sites like the Daily Kos can now be subject to campaign finance laws. Which means, essentially, their speech can be regulated during election seasons.

Under campaign finance laws they would only be required to divulge sources of funding.

Even that could be well hidden, say, a voting machine vendor who heavily favors a certain presidential candidate could take out a lot of lucrative ad-space on a site, so long as the views expressed on the site coincide with those of the company.

*wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

Right?

Re:Lovely Omission (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942495)

It's pretty disturbing that such an obviously slanted article summary was posted here without the editors even bothering to check the facts. The whole summary basically says "Democrats hate Free Speech." I've come to expect dupes, glaring ommissions, and outright falsehoods from Slashdot, but up until now it had resisted posting blatantly partisan rhetoric.

The linked article appears to be factual and fair, but the article synopsis certainly isn't.

Re:Lovely Omission (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942543)

Well, most of the time Slashdot does have a political slant. It's just that this articles slant is not like the rest of them, and is slanted in a different direciton.

Re:Lovely Omission (3, Insightful)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942643)

Everything has a slant. There's no such thing as "unbiased".

Re:Lovely Omission (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942573)

I submitted the article, and I titled it "Free Speech Rights Taken Away By Politicians". My synopsis was fairly short: "The Online Freedom of Speech Act was defeated in the House of Representatives yesterday. The Act would have immunized political bloggers from having to comply with hundreds of pages of FCC rules." The rest was added by the editors, including the title.

I am obligated to respond... (2, Insightful)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942674)

I've come to expect dupes, glaring ommissions, and outright falsehoods from Slashdot, but up until now it had resisted posting blatantly partisan rhetoric.

You must be new here.

Re:Lovely Omission (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942713)

Much love to parent and GP for taking the wind out of the sails of this rediculous sumbission. I am so tired of good bills having riders attached that basically ruin what was to be a good law.

I also fail to see why it is that we NEED a law like this. If anyone read the constitution, it's covered there, and that should (read: should) be enough.

It's like the Equal Rights Amendment [equalrightsamendment.org] which I am strongly strongly against. To say that we need an amendment to our constitution which states that all people are equal, is to say that the Consitution doesn't say that very thing to begin with - which I believe it does. Slavery and a lack of rights for women and minorities was against the Consitution.

Free speech should be exactly what the Constitution says it is, and that we need additional regulations to protect it means that the Consitution is being shit on, and that makes me sad.

Re:Lovely Omission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942742)

I've come to expect dupes, glaring ommissions, and outright falsehoods from Slashdot, but up until now it had resisted posting blatantly partisan rhetoric.


What the hell planet have you been on?

Re:Lovely Omission (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942515)

lets look at this another way as well, shall we. Recently the blog community has decided that it wants the legitimacy of professional journalism. That it wants the protection of freedom of the press to protect sources. Perhaps holding them to the same types of standards as professional news sites is a good thing. They can not just say anything, they are not exempt.

Its a choice that has to be made, are they covered under the same rules as journalists, in which case they should face the same restriction, or are they just individuals posting what they think, with the implication that what they say better be backed up and there is no protecting sources.

Re:Lovely Omission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942521)

Why does our Congress allow for bills to have riders, etc? Why can't we say "there must be one and only one agenda" on a bill?

Re:Lovely Omission (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942591)

Why does our Congress allow for bills to have riders, etc? Why can't we say "there must be one and only one agenda" on a bill?

It's the "Old Game"

Like the Fillibuster, both parties have benefited from it over the years and are unlikely to put a stop to it, lest it come back to haunt them. Interestingly the GOP moved to end Judicial Fillibustering, which many old party members were loathe to do, even as the Dems frustrated them. They could find, in a decade, a reversal of political fortunes and find they can't stall appointments of judicial candidates far to liberal for their tastes.

Re:Lovely Omission (4, Insightful)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942683)

Actually, if you were paying attention, this bill was brought up under a rule that did not allow amendments.

Bills have amendments for obvious reasons. If someone submits a bill and in the debate it is determined that there is a better way, the bill can be amended.

There's a few problems with "one and only agenda". First you have to have a defined agenda for the bill. Then you have to decide what falls in and what falls outside of that agenda. One important thing to remember is that it's impossible to amend a bill without the consent of the majority. You don't need a special rule to block 'riders', you just need Congresspeople who will vote against the amendments when they come up.

Re:Lovely Omission (1)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942534)

Thanks for clearing this up. The Why was my very first question - obviously bills in Congress are massive things with many facets, and opposition would obviously be related to something not in the article above. The Why was an important inclusion in this post, and I share your surprise that /. didn't amend it.

Re:Lovely Omission (1)

Mayhem178 (920970) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942536)

That was my very first thought. Everyone seemed to be on the wrong side of this debate, if their records have anything to say about it. Either way, the bill was a waste of time. We don't need a bill to protect our Constitutional rights. Slashdot is often a large grounds for political debate. It'll be a cold day in Hell before I defer my political opinions on here because a bunch of Democrats are tired of getting ragged on in blogs. It's exactly this kind of behavior that leads people to label them as whiny and rag on them in the first place.

mirror world? (1)

conJunk (779958) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942538)

fta:
"I'm horribly disappointed that this important measure failed to pass," said Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn. "This bill was designed to protect the free-speech rights of Americans whose only alleged crime is wanting to use the Internet to express their opinions."

is my understanding of u.s. politics so backwards? i would have expected the party breakdown to be 180degrees opoistite this...

can someone explain?

Re:mirror world? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942566)

Well first the "main-stream" media are already pointing the fingers at the Dems and sort of not making it clear why they are doing it. And slashdot is being ignorant and playing along. Now the Republicans are taking advantage trying to make the Democrats look bad by crushing what they consider to be a "free speech" issue. Where the problem is actually more related to campaign finance and would basically set the stage for the internet to have more advertising in 2008 then I see on TV, hear on Radio or see in the paper combined with no apparent limit.

Re:mirror world? (1)

Mayhem178 (920970) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942588)

I believe that the Democratic party fears a strong Republican win (due to plethora candidate choices as compared to the Democrats, who will undoubtedly run the Hildebeast) during the 2008 election, and are therefore attempting to choke down the lines of communication between registered voters.

Doesn't really effect me that much, I guess. Living in Indiana is an all but guaranteed red win in the electoral college. If I recall correctly, we were the first state to report in in 2004, mere seconds after our polls had closed.

Re:mirror world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942681)

can someone explain?

Yes. In a nutshell, your view of Republicans vs. Democrats is flawed. The Republicans claim to be about 1) individual and states rights 2) limited government spending 3) small government 4) strong military 5) conservative approach to social issues. The Democrats claim to be about (well if you understand what they REALLY mean) 1) more laws 2) more government spending 3) larger government 4) weak military 5) liberal approach to social issues. So, in fact it makes sense that Republicans would support free speech. However, what is really going on here is that blogging really hurt the Democrats last election, so the Dems are out to hurt bloggers. Really ugly, and really partisan.

Now, back to the parties themselves. Note above I used the term "claims" as to what each party represents. The fact is that both parties are now only a hairbreadth apart, since both rely (wrongly) on public opinion polls to develop their platforms. We desperately need a real third party in the US...I'd favor a party using essentially the entire Libertarian party platform, except for a reasonable military / foreign policy. Neo-libertarianism, if you will.

Re:mirror world? (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942684)

i would have expected the party breakdown to be 180degrees opoistite this...

can someone explain?

Sure. In a nutshell, you've been lied to. I would never assert that the Republican party has always vote pro-Freedom (yeah, we wrote the Patriot Act. Sorry about that.), but censorship has often been a Democratic pastime. Remember, the DMCA was signed by a Democrat president, and the PMRC [wikipedia.org] was a pet project of Tipper Gore.

And yet, to hear liberal groups tell it, it's always the Evil Republicans (tm) who want to silence everyone. The truth is far more complex, but how often do you hear of both parties' sins?

P.S. I don't know which party Jack Thompson affiliates with. I won't blame either party for that nut.

Re:mirror world? (3, Insightful)

Create an Account (841457) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942686)

Disclaimer: I am mostly Republican.

The issue is that the bill would have allowed almost unlimited political spending on the Internet. The Republicans almost always have WAY more money than the Democrats, but how they can spend it is sharply constrained by campaign finance laws. The Democrats do not want to allow the Republicans to 'buy' the election by spending vast amounts of money on unregulated messages over the Internet.

Rep: "Pass this bill" so we can pay people to blog for us with no oversight.
Dem: "Stop this bill" or we will lose our asses in the next election.

It's not about free speech, really. It's about campaign finance and tactics.

Re:mirror world? (0, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942721)

is my understanding of u.s. politics so backwards? i would have expected the party breakdown to be 180degrees opoistite this...

Interesting, isn't it? Despite the common association between left/liberal politics and liberty (to do/be anything), it's the left that usually acts to restrict or condemn speech. It's common on college campuses and is apparent in this congressional vote.

There's another dimension to this, as well. Because much of the mainstream news media, as people, lean to the political left, there's a built-in advantage for leftier politicians in the way they are covered. When exposure for a politician comes in the form of "reporting" (or op-eds in a newspaper), it's not subject to the campaign laws. If personal/group expression is limited by law, then the democratic candidates benefit by getting more "free" journalistic exposure. People will whine about Fox being a more right-leaning news outlet, but that scarcely puts a dent in the coverage from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR and the majority of big city newspapers and local broadcasters. So, the Democrats, in limiting free speech in this way, are morally bankrupt, but are working to improve their odds of winning elections.

Re:Lovely Omission (0)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942590)

It appears the article poster favours websites/blogs which are covert mouthpieces of a particular interest group spouting dubious facts and leaving out highly relevant facts.

Like moveon.org and michaelmoore.com, right?

This was a bill to protect everyone's Free Speech. It appears as though your argument (and the Democrats') is that this is a Bad Thing because it would defend the rights of conservatives as well.

Re:Lovely Omission (3, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942639)

Ah, there's the Why, a loophole for Campaign Finance law
 
Which still makes it odd for Democrats to oppose it as far as I can tell. In my state the best funded 527 groups are liberal groups.
 
And this open a completely different can of worms: Campaign spending "reforms" are, IMO, unconstitutional nonsense. There's nothing in the freedom of speech clause that says its only free speech up to a certain artificially imposed spending limit. Things like yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre and libel/slander aren't meant to be restrictions on free speech the way campaign spending restrictions are meant. And there are equally deep pockets on both sides willing to spend to get their side heard.
 
The few people I've ever know anyone dumb enough to be swayed by a last minute campaign nasty-ad are also the people who don't trouble themselves to go vote anyway.

Follow the money... (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942701)

This article--being an obviously biased love letter to the Republican party--could also be considered a political contribution.

At a time when effectively everyone has their own press and, IMHO, should be treated no differently than "professional journalists"--the term, of late, really should be in quotes, not least because so many "real" journalists are shills of the shrillest variety--unless we're going to say that the entire budget of Fox should be considered a political contribution to the Republican Party or the NYT to the Dems, it almost seems absurd to be counting ANY of these beans any differently. So, 'screw it, let's just return to the time of Hearst and allow total yellow-journalism and vote-buying. At least it would be open, obvious and readily understood by all for what it is.

FEC....not the FCC (4, Informative)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942446)

The Act would have immunized political bloggers from having to comply with hundreds of pages of FCC rules.
FCC - Federal Communications Commission
FEC - Federal Election Commission

FCC tells you what you can say on the airwaves. FEC tells you what a politician can say (during elections).

Learn the difference.

It's not just blogging! (5, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942449)

From TFA, here's the full text of the bill:

Paragraph (22) of section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(22)) is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: `Such term shall not include communications over the Internet.'.

That means that, if it had passed, anything posted on the Internet would be exempt from campaign finance laws. That means advertisements, editorials, etc. That means it would be perfectly legal for a political party to use campaign donations to hire people to write political blogs that they might not otherwise have written on their own time, initiative, and opinions. That means hiring people to comment on message boards and other people's blogs. In other words, it means astroturfing.

You may think this is a good thing, in which case it ought to be extended to the print and real worlds -- just remove all those limitations in the first place. But if you think we should be limiting the effect that money has on election campaigns, what makes the Internet special?

As it stands, anyone blogging on their own time already has free speech on the internet. So let's not cast this as a blogbing issue.

Re:It's not just blogging! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942481)

"That means that, if it had passed, anything posted on the Internet would be exempt from campaign finance laws. That means advertisements, editorials, etc. That means it would be perfectly legal for a political party to use campaign donations to hire people to write political blogs that they might not otherwise have written on their own time, initiative, and opinions. That means hiring people to comment on message boards and other people's blogs. In other words, it means astroturfing."

Nope, still don't care.

Re:It's not just blogging! (5, Insightful)

Steve B (42864) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942563)

But if you think we should be limiting the effect that money has on election campaigns, what makes the Internet special?

The fact that it is uniquely easy for J. Random Citizen to disseminate his own message of rebuttal.

Re:It's not just blogging! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942601)

Oh no!!!

FREEDOM to post anything I want on the internet using whatever amount money I feel like spending in order to do it!

*gasp*

Good thing that we don't have anything like the right to free speech or anything like that. Because if we had the freedom of speech because then crap like this:

You may think this is a good thing, in which case it ought to be extended to the print and real worlds -- just remove all those limitations in the first place. But if you think we should be limiting the effect that money has on election campaigns, what makes the Internet special?

wouldn't make sense.

Re:It's not just blogging! (1)

Whafro (193881) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942625)

I agree with most of what you just said, even though I don't really mind this "astroturfing."

The only possible objection I would have to removing the limitations on print media, etc. is that there are certain kids and styles of media that actively engage the consumer, and others that passively wait to be engaged by the consumer.

When you're watching television, and a political advertisement comes on, you did not opt into receiving that communication. You did not seek it out, you did not take the initiative to view it. The same is true of direct mail-- it came into your mailbox, and so you're going to at least give it a cursory look.

Blogs and many other types of print media are of the passive variety. Rarely do you actually stumble onto a blog, or feel compelled to go searching the blogworld for political rantings. This is the kind of stuff you actively seek out, and I don't mind there being no limitations on that kind of thing, since its value as a mass marketing tool is far weaker than the more active kinds of media.

So yeah, I would be in favor of removing limitations on blogging, handing out leaflets, publishing pamphlets and such that are handed out at booths or left in accessible places for people to take if they want one.

I can see the harm in one candidate spending millions on television advertising and the other spending thousands, and likewise with direct mail, telephone solicitations, and radio advertising. But I can't see someone saying "damn, he won because he had sixteen blogs going, and we only had four!" Nor can I see someone saying "those leaflets that he was handing out left and right really just killed our chances!"

Passive media* is just not effective enough to have a drastic effect on an election, in my opinion. Things may change, and I might reconsider at that time, but right now, I'd advocate the removal of such restrictions.

*(I'm just making that term up, it may be an actual term that I've consistently used incorrectly throughout, and apologize if that's the case)

Re:It's not just blogging! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942720)

I think you underestimate the power of the internet. If one wants to make decisions about a subject, one tries to find information about said subject.

If this passed could media outlets do interviews with political bloggers as independents and not subject to the laws of equal time? Could one essentially get paid people on television with campaign money by creating 'experts' in the blog world that could then not be restricted to the same rules as normal paid people?

There seem to be a lot of ways to channel campaign money into the foray using this, it will make a difference.

Re:It's not just blogging! (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942638)

I'm going to do something that doesn't happen alot on /. - I'm going to say that I don't really understand how this affects me. I have a crappy little website where I do the typical rant and rave thing on any subject that I fancy to. During election times I like to call all of the canidates idiots and such and point out their shortcomings. You know, real mature stuff.

How does this affect me? Will I be told to stop if some political group decides that I have been funded to say such things? Will someone attempt to have my host locked down the domain during elections?

I am truly ignorant here and would like to know if I need to start saving money for a lawyer or not.

Re:It's not just blogging! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942669)

That means it would be perfectly legal for a political party to use campaign donations to hire people to write political blogs that they might not otherwise have written on their own time, initiative, and opinions. That means hiring people to comment on message boards and other people's blogs.
You mean like MoveOn.org does already?

Re:It's not just blogging! (1)

mtaht (603670) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942741)

Hear, Hear! The railroad for this bill was at full steam and at least is now temporarily off the tracks. It's not about free speech, but about paid-for political speech - anyone remember the scandals about secret payoffs to bloggers from last election? Passing this bill as is would lead to political splogging on an intense scale. Yuck.

Re:It's not just blogging! (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942747)

INdeed. Either campaign finance reform makes sense or it does not. If it does then of course it should apply to the internet AND to "news" organizations too. Let us have no political discussion at all and force politicians to go door to door to get out their "message". Yep, all for that!

That's a switch (0)

gregjmartin (806753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942450)

I thought the Dems were the standard bearers for free speech...

Re:That's a switch (-1, Flamebait)

Robocoastie (777066) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942472)

there's a lot of fairy tales about democrats. welcome to the real world, it's been waiting for you.

Re:That's a switch (3, Insightful)

jeremycobert (795832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942493)

they are, as long as you agree with them :)

Re:That's a switch (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942583)

Yeah, but they aren't the standard-bearers for astroturfing.

(At least not in this case, anyway)

Re:That's a switch (1)

kalel666 (587116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942706)

They are, just ask Lawrence Summers.

Re:That's a switch (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942707)

You thought wrong [workingforchange.com] .

Re:That's a switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942727)

As usual, we have trolls who don't RTFA, know what they are responding to, and like to shoot from the hip!!

I'm so glad today is like every other day!!!

Re:That's a switch (2, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942746)

Even the Democrats believe in time, place, and manner restrictions, which the FEC rules fall within.

There are lines between political speech and paid political speech. As long as somebody is speaking his/her mind without being paid, free speech for political reasons is nearly absolute (short of slander and libel, but even then, the burden of proof bar is set pretty high). As soon as money changes hands (e.g. a person being paid to say that a candidate is wonderful, someone being paid to say that they use brand x toothpaste when they really use brand y, etc.), the rules change dramatically and always have.

The bill, as written, would have substantially blurred those lines. If you are taking money from any political group, whether through ad revenue or otherwise, you have an obligation to disclose this fully. That's what these laws are about. It's that simple. Exempting bloggers and online communication would just mean a whole new flock of internet advertising with no money trail, potentially with the ability to say nearly anything, no matter how outrageous, and get away with it. Astroturfing is just the tip of the iceburg. Under the relaxed rules proposed, we could see all-out news stories that border on political party-financed libel, again with no disclosure.

I'm not saying that I think bloggers should have to go through the same legal hurdles as somebody doing ad copy for the RNC, but to say that all internet communication across the board is exempted, and to not put -any- rules on blogging (including blogging that is paid for by advertising dollars from political groups) would be disastrous.

The Relevant Information (3, Informative)

byteCoder (205266) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942451)

Here is the past Slashdot discussion [slashdot.org] at the bill's introduction. The bill text for HR 1606 can be found here [loc.gov] . The bill simply says:
Paragraph (22) of section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(22)) is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: `Such term shall not include communications over the Internet.'.
The law being modified can be found on page 11 (PDF page 25) of this (warning: large PDF) document [fec.gov] , which simply defines "public communication" as:
(22) Public communication. The term 'public communication' means a communication by means of any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication, newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising facility, mass mailing, or telephone bank to the general public, or any other form of general public political advertising.

Strange... (0)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942457)

Strange, you'd think the Republicians would have been the ones to oppose it. Things are very strange around the world now....

Re:Strange... (1)

pl1ght (836951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942484)

I was thinking the same exact thing actually. I am surprised it was republicans pushing and democrats opposing. this sounds like a liberalized bill imo.

Re:Strange... (1)

MrHyd3 (19709) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942565)

Amazing how the media works in the Democrats favor. Democrats love free speech as long as it's "their" speak. If not, you're labeled a Racist, Biggot, Homo-phobe, Nazi, insert-here.

Re:Strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942501)

The only thing strange here is you being befuddled at yet another ridiculously miswritten summary on slashdot that muffs what actually occurred and spouts tenous conclusions that would be spurious even if the core "facts" stated in the summary were in fact true, instead of gross misrepresentations.

Re:Strange... (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942668)

While your thoughts is correct there is a reason that the Democrats opposed this. With the nomination of Alito the White House has asked all the conservative blogs out there for their help in shaping public opinion.

While this is nothing new, both sides have been doing this since they realized the power of blogs, this also translates to the nonsense that went on in the last presidential election.

The Republicans ran a better smear campaign but were able to disavow any association with those who opposed Kerry while simultaneously providing these folks with information. Thus the best of both worlds.

The Democrats don't want a repeat of this and so objected, and now defeated, this measure.

What a joke (4, Insightful)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942464)

This is a joke. The Republicans control the House. In the House, the majority does what it wants. While the bill was brought up under a rule that required 2/3rds majority, the Republican leadership could right this very second bring it up as a normal bill that requires only a simple majority.

It is impossible for the Democrats to stop anything in the House.

Re:What a joke (2, Insightful)

hanshotfirst (851936) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942657)

It was the democrats who stopped this, in this case. Under your premise, if a simple majority were required the bill would have passed the House. According to the heading, the voting was pretty much along party lines, so let's assume that simple majority vote was republican.

If only a simple majority was needed, the bill would have passed. Instead, the rules required a supermajority, which meant that it would need support from BOTH parties, not just the republican majority. Since the democrats apparently opposed it, that super-majority was not met, thereby blocking the bill by the democrats' action.

The supermajority requirement actually enabled the minority party to stop the bill, rather than make it impossible.

Re:What a joke (1)

pmike_bauer (763028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942667)

You are almost correct. It is impossible for the Democrats to stop anything in the House on their own. If the Republicans don't all band together, the Democrats have enough votes to derail certain bills.

Re:What a joke (2, Interesting)

gsfprez (27403) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942702)

The Rs also control the senate, but there are 44 Dems in the Senate...

and while every single Democrat is against the war today - how was it that the authority to go to war went 99 to nothing in the senate?

I find it funny that on the War and the Patriot Act, the Dems VOTED lock-step with the Republicans, while a mere 2 years later, are violently opposed to the very things that they voted for?

Both parties suck in so many ways, its frightening.

Adults Vote Libertarian.

Re:What a joke (2, Insightful)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942743)

Is there a bigger indictment of Slashdot's blatant liberalism? +5 insightful for a post that blames Republicans for a Democratic derailment of a bill... Somehow you've actually found a way to blame the Republicans because a bill they supported didn't get passed....

How clever of those Republicans... to secretly not want the bill passed, and make the Democrats do all the work and take the publicity hit of shooting it down...

Freedom of speech had nothing to do with it (1, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942465)

The Dems must have decided that the Republicans get more advantage from blogging than they do.

No principles here, move along...

Re:Freedom of speech had nothing to do with it (4, Interesting)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942496)

Wrong! The bill was brought this up under the Suspension Calendar rule which allows a short debate and no amendments. Democrats had problems with the wording of the bill. Because they could not amend it, they had to vote against it.

Re:Freedom of speech had nothing to do with it (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942680)

Don't get me wrong - I don't think for a minute that the Republicans were proposing it from principles either. Right now, I believe the consensus among the political parties is that blogging has helped Republicans more than Democrats - the CBS memo fiasco comes to mind. Republicans see an advantage in unrestricted blogging; the Democrats don't. Thus, the vote tally.

Would you really stand there and state that, if the Democrats thought blogging was working better for them than the Republicans, that this still wouldn't have passed? Conversely, that the Republicans would have even brought it up?

Re:Freedom of speech had nothing to do with it (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942734)

Most people on both side of the aisle don't want to see the Internet regulated for political speech and agree that donations made on the Internet are no different from donations sent in the mail.

Democrats are way better off with the internet, imo. The gains in donations they made during the 2004 elections and since are due almost solely to the internet. We're doing much better with message shaping and influencing our elected officials. Note that several influential politicans post regularly on the DailyKos site. The CBS memo fiasco was an exception, not the rule. Democrats don't want to shut down political blogs due to an exception.

The reason why this didn't pass is because it may have allowed unlimited donations over the Internet. The bill couldn't be amended, so Democrats had to vote against it. It's that simple.

Re:Freedom of speech had nothing to do with it (1)

theSpaceCow (920198) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942653)

I humbly, and with great fear of my own imminent downmodding, wonder why this was marked as flamebait. Although it might not have been the reason for the outcome of THIS particular vote, I think it's as naive as naivete gets to think that politicians don't vote on certain topics based on whether they or their opponents gain more from a particular piece of legislation.

I think it's also a totally valid criticism to state that a politician's personal views are sometimes at odds with what stands to benefit them politically, and that they could potentially sacrifice the former for the latter.

Legislation is one thing, enforcement is another.. (2, Interesting)

dfn_deux (535506) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942466)

While I'm as big a proponent of free speech as the next guy, I have to say this will likely have little to no impact on actual internet speech. There won't be a "chilling effect" as some would have you believe. In the end there just isn't the budget or the manpower to enforce the same FCC political advertising guidelines online as are enforced in major boradcast media. and the big topper is that the first time Big Brother tries to enforce this we will quickly see it in front of 9 of the US's top justices whom will in all likelyhood vote to remove FCC regulation from the whole realm of internet publishing.... Anyone who tells you otherwise is just a chickenlittle...

Re:Legislation is one thing, enforcement is anothe (1)

dfn_deux (535506) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942492)

The above should say FEC not FCC.. whoopsy!

Re:Legislation is one thing, enforcement is anothe (1, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942516)

In the end there just isn't the budget or the manpower to enforce the same FCC political advertising guidelines online as are enforced in major boradcast media.

All it takes is one example. They don't have to go after every blog. Just a couple of them. A couple of high profile prosecutions will make political blogging a different sort of beast. FACE didn't require that every abortion protestor be prosecuted. A few prosecutions and everyone with half a brain and something to lose will conform.

LK

The complexity of the issue (5, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942470)

This issue is really very complex, and do make it a simple "up or down" measure I think betrays the very issue of free speech that we're dealing with.

According to the Supreme Court, campaign finance laws do not violate the 1st Amendment. The argument basically goes like this:

You can't restrict campaign finance, because that limits free speech.

SCOTUS: Yes, you can, because then it gives all powers of speech into the hands of the few who can massively pay for it, and restricts "pure" free speech - but if you limit the amount each person/group is able to contribute, then it levels the playing field for speech. It's the equivalent to saying that the guy who can buy a 100 foot tall speaker is just exercising his free speech by drowning everybody else out.


So, now we're talking about the Internet. And here's the problem:

If someone has a political blog, that is probably free speech.

If someone pays a large number of people to have political blogs to support their view, is that still free speech, or is that diluting free speech?

What's the difference between paying for an advertisement on television saying that "Candidate so-and-so likes to have sex with black people and make bastard babies, don't vote for him!" and a company buying up advertisement on the Internet saying the same thing?

So, while I don't think that either the Dems or the Repubs have noble interests at heart, this is an interesting challenge. Do you just say "The Internet doesn't have to worry about campaign finance", and give the possibility of the delution of "pure" free speech as discussed by the Supreme Court and previous campaign finance laws, or do you try and put some language saying "If you get money based on your political views, you have to reveal who did it and how much and can only accept X amount".

I'd rather see a law like the "truth in advertising" - if you're getting money for writing the blog/hosting an ad, you have to state on your web site where that comes from and how much. This way people who are just running ads can say "Google adsense", and those getting it from campaign groups can disclosed if they are a hired gun or not. Granted, there is more to the language than this, but this is just my thumbnail sketch, so if you need to split hairs, at least come up with your own complete language to cover the complexity of the issue :).

It's an interesting question, and one that *should* be debated for a good and long time. If you notice, this was the failure not of a majority but of a "mega-majority" of 2/3 to pass the bill. Some further debate and clarification of the language should make it palatable to that majority in the end, which I believe is perfectly reasonable.

Of course, this is just my opinion - I could be wrong.

Re:The complexity of the issue (1)

crush (19364) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942660)

I'd rather see a law like the "truth in advertising" - if you're getting money for writing the blog/hosting an ad, you have to state on your web site where that comes from and how much.
Sounds clear, sensible and fair. You'll never have a career in politics!

Re:The complexity of the issue (1)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942716)

No kidding - I keep thinking about running but then realize that I don't have the money to do it anyway, and most of my debates would boil down to "I'm sorry - did you actually hear the question or are you incapable of a straight answer?".

More detailed information (4, Informative)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942511)

Daily Kos has an article on this with a bit more information. This one actually goes into reasons why the Dems voted againt it. Daily Kos disagrees with the Dem's reasons, and was in favor of extending the free nature of blogs.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/3/112540 /088 [dailykos.com]

Note that the act can still be brought up for a vote under normal rules and passed. The defeat was under special rules intended to speed the process.

Why? (2, Insightful)

31415926535897 (702314) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942526)

Why does there have to be an Online Freedom of Speech Act? Why does there have to be anything other than the First Amendment? I am tired of how much our "free speech" has become regulated since the founding of this country.

The other thing that bothers me is the two party political system. Why wouldn't democrats want to protect our speech online? It seems all they're interested in is opposing the republicans these days (I used to be a republican, but I don't think they stand for conservatism anymore, so I'm libertarian/independent/non-incumbant now).

We need politicians that will bring us back to the freedoms our country enjoyed two hundred years ago, but everyone is interested in towing the party line--it seems even the voters. If you are of voting age, and in the US, please consider third-party candidates in the '06 congressional elections. I want to be part of a larger group than 0.5% of the population.

Re:Why? (1)

Sandbox Conspiracy (836255) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942614)

We need politicians that will bring us back to the freedoms our country enjoyed two hundred years ago, but everyone is interested in towing the party line--it seems even the voters.

Two hundred years ago, blacks were 3/5 of a person and women were legally sanctioned second class citizens. That freedom?

Though, I do agree that we are being sold short by our politicians on both sides these days. However, in a democratic republic aren't we supposed to be the bosses? Much of the blame for this modern day political lampooning rests squarely upon our own shoulders for allowing our representatives to meander about unchecked beyond the scope of their political enemies who also happen to be their political peers.

Re:Why? (1)

dkoulomzin (320266) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942687)

Free Speech, much like a capitalist economy, works best if there is true competition... certainly I've never heard of an enlightening debate when only one side has been doing all the talking. A monopolistic free-speaker (i.e. one that has the ability to essentially spam everyone with its ideas) stifles the competition. Chances are, as a slashdotter you're against monopolistic control of the software (and other) industry by micro$oft-like organizations. So why shouldn't you be against monopolistic control of speech by super-rich and super-loud organizations?

By the way, if you haven't noticed, the world is rather different from how it was 200 years ago. Exactly what makes you think that what worked then would work now?

By the way, I do agree with you about one thing: voters need to demonstrate their disgust with politics as usual by voting for non-mainstream candidates. I vote for third party candidates as much as I can.

Re:Why? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942714)

We need politicians that will bring us back to the freedoms our country enjoyed two hundred years ago,

Welcome to the Libertarian Party [lp.org] .

That's a lot of trouble to go to (1, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942531)

I mean, why go to all that trouble to screw with my freedom to talk? Wasn't McCain-Feingold bad enough as is? Surely the Dems could just inspire better bloggers, and then not feel so insecure about the impact of non-liberal bloggers on elections? Because the measure in question was, I think, absolutely central to free expression (my right to post things on my own damn web site, or even to pay someone to help me write that content, or even to pay people to help me get traffic to that web site)... and whatever those opposing the measure were thinking, they sure weren't thinking "First Amendment."

I can't stand (and thus, don't read) the wingnut blogs from the far end of either party... but if I want to catch up on how a pending election is going to realistically impact something I actually care about, I want to be able to read what some people would certainly consider political blogs, and right up until I cast a vote. And considering my ecclectic interests, I know that the people posting meaningful content covering what I can't see through the normal media sure as hell can't afford to do what they do and even begin to think about whether they are or aren't compliant with election bookkeeping rules. Blocking this measure was stupid, counter-constitutional, and just objectively the wrong thing to do.

Re:That's a lot of trouble to go to (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942698)

Hidden in the measure was a dirty secret about funneling money through "online free speach" sites to political parties and candidates.

It's not knocked down because of the freedom of expression, it was voted down because it's a circumvention of campaign finance restrictions, essentially allowing unlimited donations. Unlimited money spent on politics is almost always the opposite of freedom.

Not dead ... Better this way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942545)

There was majority support, but under the rules of the House, it can't jump to the head of the line without "supermajority" support. Neither the House, nor the Senate, is a supermajority body. But they have rules that permit Democrats and Republicans to play games and defeat the will of the majority ... for a time.

In a way, this is better. The Federal Election Commission in the next few weeks will release its "final rules" relating to court-mandated regulation of political speech on the Internet. These rules may meet the primary concerns of bloggers, and this legislation might not be necessary.

Few seem to understand why bloggers have been so concerned with the proposed rules. It is not the application of campaign finance laws to political advertising. It is, primarily, the absurd characterization of the use of computers and internet access with any ownership linkages to corporations or labor unions as illegal campaign contributions, if a blogger happens to be "coordinating" (poorly defined) with a political campaign.

The absurd safe harbor is, IIRC, 4 hours a month, of using a computer that might be provided, or subsidized, by your employer!

By the way, as bloggers formally organize as incorporated vehicles for liability protection, they are subject to all the rules applicable that bar "corporate money" from "corrupting" the system.

The original proposal was a mess. Well known bloggers testified before the FEC and flushed out most of this. Let's give the FEC a chance to rule. This piece of legislation has majority support. Most of the "coordination" provisions bloggers are most worried about don't kick in until 60 days before next November's federal election. Let's take a breath, see what the FEC offers, and then put whatever pressure on legislators may be necessary and appropriate.

Of course, what the article doesn't tell you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942560)

Is that this bill actually needed a 2/3 majority to pass for some reason. [house.gov] I'm not sure why; it says they were trying to pass it outside the normal rules. Well, huh. If they'd just gone through the normal rules it would have passed, looks like, right?

Still, a bit of an odd way of looking at it. The democrats have a minority of congress and not all of them voted against this motion. They certainly voted against it more than the republicans did; still this article seems a bit sensationalist, the bill doesn't manage to get 2/3 of congress to vote for it and it's the DEMOCRATS! THE DEMOCRATS DID THIS!

Not sure the dems were ever friends of free speech (5, Insightful)

inverselimit (900794) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942572)

Remember who signed the DMCA--Clinton. I think free speech in the slashdot, eff sense is really quite orthogonal to party lines.

Re:Not sure the dems were ever friends of free spe (4, Insightful)

Zak3056 (69287) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942728)

Remember who signed the DMCA--Clinton. I think free speech in the slashdot, eff sense is really quite orthogonal to party lines.

And a Republican congress passed the law to begin with. Both major parties have similar agendas in this regard--most people, sadly, choose to ignore that fact and simply spout "my party is all that is good and light. Your party is teh suck" tripe.

What constitutes a 'political' blog? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942575)

What is the threshold to be covered by this?

Could you, as an individual blogger, endorse a candidate or discuss political issues on your blog? Or are you enjoined from making any political statements on your blog because that is now included as part of someone's election campaign?

How much of one's blog would have to apply to other things in order to not run afoul of this?

I'm a little mystefied as the article is unclear. On the one hand, I can see that they don't want massive campaigns by parties which circumvents the electoral rules. On the other hand, you can't supress every single private individual from having a political opinion.

not surpising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942587)

Democrats do blame bloggers and other internet outlets, in part, for their recent losses at the ballet box. It seems that any non-traditional media is ironically bad for liberals. Between Matt Drudge destroying Clintons potential of having a stainless (pun intended) legacy and bloggers destroying the "national guard" memos and other parts of the Kerry campaign democrats want to stifle online speech. If you can't compete than just shut them down is the thinking I guess.

get ready for your own chinese firewall (1)

know1 (854868) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942604)

only it won't be physical, sure go ahead and look... "pick up the gun" * shoots * "you all saw, he had a gun" look at and say what you want, just be prepared for the beatdown when you do. thank god i'm in England

Classic.. Democrats and free speech (-1, Troll)

TheCeltic (102319) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942619)

Yeah.. sure they want free speech.. as long as they can control it.

READ THE DAMN ARTICLE (4, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942635)

This is not an encrouchment on your right to free speech. This just applies existing election campaign laws to internet communication.

You can still post your political party bashing blog. Now you just can't get paid insane amounts of money to do so with out the backing party acknowledging it.

Nothing to do with your rights. Everything to do with campaign finances.

-Rick

Question for the poster... (2, Funny)

pdo400 (86490) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942641)

...were you paid to submit this here?

Re:Question for the poster... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942709)

It looks like the post's title was taken straight from the article. Is CNET on the Republican payroll? Or are you just angry that it isn't a anti-Reblican article?

Aaaargh! (2, Interesting)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942642)

Once upon a time, I was a Democrat -- and damn proud of it. Democrats have a wonderful and storied history of going to bat for the little guy. Be it gender, race, disability, religion... you name it, the Democrats were willing to support those unfairly accused or biased against.

And then came the 90's.

Bill Clinton still did many good things -- but one of the worst things he did (IMNSHO) was to cause the Democratic party to lose its identity. He frequently took Republican initiatives, rubbed off the serial numbers, and called it "Good." Then came Gore & Kerry -- both of whose campaign platforms could be summed up as "I'm not George W. Bush."

Then we have stuff like the DMCA and the Sonny Bono act, both of which should have been squashed by traditional Democrats... and instead are supported by them.

I'm disgusted. Bring back a JFK. Bring back a Roosevelt! Hell -- even Carter! He made some really dumb mistakes, but nobody doubts his sincere willingness to try to do what he felt was best -- as his continued works with Habitat for Humanity show.

Instead, we get Ted (The One That Wouldn't Go Away) Kennedy, we get Tom (I'm a waste of space and air) Daschle, we get antagonists, footdraggers and backpeddalers.

God, I hope McCain runs next time. I'll vote for him before most any Democratic contender I can think of. Perhaps that's why I'm now a registered independent. *sigh*

Blame GW!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942647)

It's all George Bush's Fau..... oh wait... no, the Lib's messed this one up themselves.(as usual)

Darn, what will the /.'s lefties do now without anybody blame but themselves?

Somewhere, somone said..... (1)

mitcharoni (222957) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942685)

"Congress shall make no law .... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."

Can't quite place it.

Effectively by NOT passing this law, Congress continues to end run the constitution and maintains their control over defining what speech is free. Control which they explicitly do not have in the first place.

This helps the Democrats more since the Moveon.org's of the world will continue to be powerhouses on the net, while TRUE grassroots organizations get f'd.

IT'S NOT ABOUT PROTECTING FREE SPEECH (4, Insightful)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942695)

This bill had nothing whatsoever to do with protecting free speech. Independent bloggers already have free speech and this amendment would not have enhanced their free speech.

The amendment would have created a loophole in campaign finance reform and allowed unlimited political spending on the web. The amendment would actually suppress free speech to the extent that independent views could be drowned out with politically financed astro-turfing.

In the fine tradition of many other laws and bills that have surfaced over the past five years, the intent of this amendment was the exact opposite of that implied by its title. If Orwell were alive, he'd be rolling in his grave.

Slashdot: faux infotainment for nerds.

Democrats and Campaign Reform... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13942703)

Ultimately, the Democratic position would probably limit free speech among bloggers to a certain extent. The problem has to deal with the "Schenck v. United States", where a person has a limited amount of time to make a decision based on statements that he/she has no ability to verify (because of that time).

New campaign laws seek to limit the type/amout/method of information being disseminated in the weeks directly before election. Let me give an example...

Lets say a large group of bloggers decides they want to impact an election. 2 days before an election one anonymously blogs that Candidate X was accused of date rape in college and that the accuser is afraid to come forward. The day before the election, all of the other bloggers pick up the story and start talking about it in huge numbers. Then, the day of the election, every voter has to make a decision of risking to vote for a date rapist. I know this sounds silly, but it was a very effective strategy against a college student body president campaign at my alma mater only a few years back. A similar strategy was employed against a Republican candidate for house in 1996 in NC (although it wasnt bloggers, it was a mass mailing).

While there is no precedent against bloggers, it seems silly - I think - to give them a complete immunity when it is very possible (if not inevitable) that such an immunity would create a haven of this kind of attack.

The most important speech that must be protected is the vote.

Dems save /. (3, Insightful)

Puhase (911920) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942712)

Can you even imagine having the RNC pay 5-10 people a day to create a bunch of accounts on here to post on political articles of relevance? You may be thinking that no one would care enough to do it, but with the kind of money involved, they could hire 50-1000's to do it on as many American news sites/blogs as they wanted. All of that aside, its nigh impossible to enforce broad internet legislation that is not copyright oriented (so the RIAA pays for its enforcement).
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