FEC Regulations for Internet Politics

The FEC, under court order to regulate campaign advertising on the Web, has been looking at regulating other political activity on the Internet. The tremendous increase of Netroots political action groups in sparking national attention and debate leading to mass organized intervention activities; on top of the all important fund raising potential, had also come under FEC scrutiny for regulation.

Anxiety on all sides of the political turf was high. The Net has become an essential tool for organizing, communicating and replacing the old venues for political discussion and debate. Althought the New England states still have town hall meetings and the midwest has pancake house forums; letters to the editors have become an insufficient means of having meaningful debate and discussion in densely populated areas of the country. The blogosphere fills an important role in society by allowing the conversations to take place with minimal restrictions. It’s potential to contribute constructively to the multiple problems we face needs to be developed with a more functional framework.

Regulations can serve the public interest well. According to an article in WaPo today, it appears that this time the Republicans may have developed a reasonable policy:

For the most part, leading advocates of the blogger community welcomed the proposed rules.

“As a whole, these are rules that I think those who have been fighting regulations are going to be cheering,” said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, who runs the Election Law blog.

“Generally, it’s in line with what I think bloggers ask for,” said Jerome Armstrong, the founder of the liberal blog MyDD.

Armstrong raised one problem with the proposed regulation:

Armstrong voiced concern, however, over potential difficulties that could result from a requirement that campaign ads have disclaimers. “The size of a Web ad and the size of blog ad is so small that having to put a disclaimer on it is going to take up all the space.”

Congress still has legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) to consider and the six member Commission is due to meet Monday to further amend it’s proposal.

The only person quoted as considering the proposal as too comples is Mike Krempasky, who runs the conservative blog RedState. Well, we would be suspicious if he was happy with it.

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4 Responses to FEC Regulations for Internet Politics

  1. Ginny in CO says:

    In thinking about Armstrongs concern with the disclaimer, I’m wondering if some specific icon(s) – a heavily used feature of computers- could be developed to indicate the standard disclaimers instead of writing them out in the ads.
    For the candidate running the ad endorsing it, they could have an icon to represent their disclaimer.

    The icons could be a source of badly needed humor in political advertising.

    For the standard “This ad is not paid for by any candidate or candidate’s committee”, it could be a smoking cigar with the international Red slash over it….

  2. Ginny

    I think Jerome is nitpicking. If I remember correctly the disclaimers say something like: “I’m John Kerry and I approve of this ad.” An icon might work, but Blog Ads provides for quite a bit of text in the space for each ad.

    A Blog Ads add can accomodate a 150 x 200 pixel graphic (which can have text in it) and then 300 published characters and 3 line breaks.

  3. Leonard Clark says:

    I am deeply suspicious of any law that elite and powerful politicians (Yeah, I really believe that the FEC is Bi-Partisan)use to help them keep their power of incumbency.

    These regulations are reactionary in that powerful politicians don’t know what to do with this second coming of the Guttenburg Press that we call the Internet. They see grass roots people who are gaining momentum on them and that their money might not always ensure their elective victories so I am deeply suspicious.

    I will be an official candidate for the U.S. Senate within the next several days in Arizona and I have to contend with wealthy politicians on both sides of the aisle who do not like grass-roots people like me.
    So, I will not be able to make a decision until I can more thoroughly study these proposed laws but as for right now, I feel that its just the wealthy and entrenched elite of this country just trying to pull the wool over the peoples eyes and keep them people down.

    If anybody has more information on this subject or would like to discuss the issue please write me at leonardclark385@hotmail.com
    Leonard Clark
    The Damned Liberal
    Desert Storm/ OIF III VET
    and Candidate for the U.S. Senate
    in Arizona on March 29th, 2006

  4. Ginny in CO says:


    In this case, the elite and powerful politicians who use laws to keep the power of incumbancy would be running the risk of really pissing off some of the most aware and active voters.

    Given that both Hasen and Armstrong were pleased with it, my concern is the changes that can still be made either by the Commission or Congress. We know how the GOP likes to slip little items on to bigger bills at the last minute.

    As I said in another column, I would bet the GOP has figured out all the ways to construct limits with the loopholes that they will use immediately. Apparently they haven’t done it so far. But they still have time and motive.