“The coming crackdown on blogging,” by Declan McCullagh, CNET News.com, http://news.com.com/The+coming+crackdown+on+blogging+-+page+2/2008-1028_3-5597079-2.html?tag=st.next, 3 March 2005 (from Michelle Malkin).
The suspiciously french U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, solomon of the Microsoft case, makes her views on free speech known
In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. “The commission’s exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines” the campaign finance law’s purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn’t get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a “bizarre” regulatory process now is under way.
Hyperlinking may become a campaign donation, subject to a cap
How about a hyperlink? Is it worth a penny, or a dollar, to a campaign?
I don’t know. But I’ll tell you this. One thing the commission has argued over, debated, wrestled with, is how to value assistance to a campaign.
Corporations aren’t allowed to donate to campaigns. Suppose a corporation devotes 20 minutes of a secretary’s time and $30 in postage to sending out letters for an executive. As a result, the campaign raises $35,000. Do we value the violation on the amount of corporate resources actually spent, maybe $40, or the $35,000 actually raised? The commission has usually taken the view that we value it by the amount raised. It’s still going to be difficult to value the link, but the value of the link will go up very quickly.
Unsaid: will only Americans be allowed to hyperlink to campaign websites?
Is this vengence for the take-downs of Rather and Jordon?
Then this is a partisan issue?
Yes, it is at this time. But I always point out that partisan splits tend to reflect ideology rather than party. I don’t think the Democratic commissioners are sitting around saying that the Internet is working to the advantage of the Republicans.
One of the reasons it’s a good time to (fix this) now is you don’t know who’s benefiting. Both the Democrats and Republicans used the Internet very effectively in the last campaign.
If Congress doesn’t change the law, what kind of activities will the FEC have to target?
We’re talking about any decision by an individual to put a link (to a political candidate) on their home page, set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet.
Again, blogging could also get us into issues about online journals and non-online journals. Why should CNET get an exemption but not an informal blog? Why should Salon or Slate get an exemption? Should Nytimes.com and Opinionjournal.com get an exemption but not online sites, just because the newspapers have a print edition as well?
No Human Rights for Bloggers in America?
God save the judiciary’s commitment to free speech.
Update: The hyper-partisan MyDD quotes Jolly Buddha‘s warning of unintended consequences:
How would the FEC treat the value of Hindrocket posting a blog supporting a particular Democratic candidate. It would be very easy for Hindrocket, or anybody else, to create an “independent” site that purported to support a particular candidate. It could actually be quite lame or even negative, since the candidate has absolutely no control over the content. As long as Hindrocket explicitly endorsed candidate A, candidate A would be penalized somehow by the FEC.
How would they place a value on the benefit to the candidate? Would candidate A get “credit” for bad endorsements or if the “endorsement” actually worked against them?
Update 2: Fellow unpronouncable Midwestern blogger TBFKADVK calls it “bone-chilling.”
Update 3: Mark from Zen Pundit calls Senator McCain an “oligarch.”