Chilling: FEC in push to regulate political speech on the internet

The Federal Election Commission deadlocked on a vote to impose strict rules on political speech over the internet, but Democrats on the commission warn that they will continue their efforts at censorship next year.

Republicans on the commission point out that the Democrat's rules changes would give the US a Chinese-style censored internet. That won't deter the Democrats from squashing free speech on the net and trampling on the FIrst Amendment.

Washington Times:

The FEC deadlocked in a crucial Internet campaign speech vote announced Friday, leaving online political blogging and videos free of many of the reporting requirements attached to broadcast ads — for now.

While all three GOP-backed members voted against restrictions, they were opposed by the three Democratic-backed members, including FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel, who said she will lead a push next year to try to come up with new rules government political speech on the Internet.

It would mark a major reversal for the commission, which for nearly a decade has protected the ability of individuals and interest groups to take to engage in a robust political conversation on the Internet without having to worry about registering with the government or keeping and reporting records of their expenses.

Ms. Ravel said she fears that in trying to keep the Internet open for bloggers, they’ve instead created a loophole for major political players to escape some scrutiny.

“Some of my colleagues seem to believe that the same political message that would require disclosure if run on television should be categorically exempt from the same requirements when placed in the Internet alone,” said FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel in a statement. “As a matter of policy, this simply does not make sense.”

She said the FEC should no longer “turn a blind eye to the Internet’s growing force in the political arena,” and she vowed to force a conversation next year on what changes to make.

The three Republican-backed commissioners, though, said in a joint statement that Ms. Ravel’s plans would stifle what’s become the “virtual free marketplace of political ideas and democratic debate.”

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman said what Ms. Ravel is proposing would require a massive bureaucracy digging into the corners of the web to police what’s posted about politics.

“I cannot imagine a regulatory regime that would put government censors on the Internet daily, culling YouTube video posts for violations of law — nothing short of a Chinese censorship board,” Mr. Goodman said.

Websites that disseminate these internet ads the Democrats are targeting would be subject to reporting requirements. That goes for small blogs to big outfits like Politico or The Hill. Since the whole point of the internet is to spread information, there would be a chilling effect on free speech.

The freedom of the internet is under attack. Taxing sales through the internet will probably become a reality next year. The independence of the internet is being threatened as the US withdraws from its management. There is an effort by big internet service providers to create a "fast track" internet for their paying customers while slowing down the net for the rest of us.

And now a serious attack on free speech. What is it about freedom that so many hate?