A View from David Appell

FEC Regulation of the Internet

A few weeks ago the blogosphere was all up in arms over a Declan McCullagh interview of Federal Election Commission (FEC) member Bradley Smith. Smith wasn’t shy about suggesting that bloggers might be overstepping their political bounds, and that bloggers…

  • March 24, 2005

A few weeks ago the blogosphere was all up in arms over a Declan McCullagh interview of Federal Election Commission (FEC) member Bradley Smith. Smith wasn’t shy about suggesting that bloggers might be overstepping their political bounds, and that bloggers and news organizations might “risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign’s Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate’s press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.” It was difficult to reconcile such a point of view with the First Amendment.

Now it appears that Smith went off half-cocked. Yesterday the FEC said it plans to take a “relatively nonintrusive” approach to regulating political campaigning over the Internet, and that they’re “focusing much of [their] attention on whether to apply federal contribution limits on online political advertising campaigns.”

That’s a much more minimal oversight than Smith suggested, and which some people feared.

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