Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

FEC Rules Regarding Internet Regulation Released

BY Michael Bassik | Wednesday, March 23 2005

The Federal Election Commission today released its much-anticipated proposed rules regarding the regulation of political communication on the Internet, including one that appears to treat “online-only news outlets, and even individual bloggers as legitimate journalists and immune from laws that could count their political endorsements as campaign contributions.” This according to Declan McCullagh, online journalist from CNET News.com, who has taken the time to read through the nearly 50-page document. [I'm half-way through it. Will post a more-detailed update on PDF later tonight. Easy to read version of the rules can be found at RedState.org.]

The announcement comes as a huge relief to many of us, as just a few weeks ago the online blogging and journalism community was up in arms over an interview with FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith in which he hints at a possible “crack-down” on political speech on the Internet.

The other piece of good news comes in the form of a time period. While many had thought the FEC would only provide a 30-day public comment period, they have actually allocated a full 60-days for comments.

In addition to crafting new rules regarding blogging and the illusive “media exception,” the FEC has also proposed changes to the definition of “public communication,” which had previously excluded paid advertisements on the Internet from many of the restrictions that apply to paid ads on all other outlets, such as television and radio. Following Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s decision in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Shays v. FEC, 337 F. Supp. 2d 28 (D.D.C. 2004), the FEC had no choice but to include the Internet under the definition of “public communication.” We'll just have to wait and see whatCongress has to say about that.

After digesting the proposed rules, I know I join my colleagues at Online Coalition in asking for your opinions. If what Declan says is right, we might be able to declare a huge victory for the blogosphere, journalism, and free speech, all at once.

Stay tuned.

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Spoilers

How the GOP hasn't fixed its tech talent gap; the most tech-savvy elected official in America, and the most tech-savvy state-wide candidate; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Hot Spots

How Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is making inroads in China; labor protests among Uber drivers spread to more cities; new data about the prevalence of online harassment; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Reminders

Why the RNC hasn't managed to reboot how Republican campaigns use voter data; new ways of using phone banking to get out the vote; how the UK's digital director is still ahead of the e-govt curve; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Patient Zero

Monica Lewinsky emerges with a mission to fight cyber-bullying; Marc Andreessen explains his political philosophy; tech donors to MayDay PAC get pushback from Congressional incumbents; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Front Pagers

How Facebook's trending topics feed is wrecking political news; debating the FBI's need for an encrypted phone "backdoor"; democratizing crisis data; and much, much more. GO

More