Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Next Blogstorm

The next blogstorm is gathering over the prospect that the Federal Election Commission might seek to extend speech regulation to the internet and to bloggers. Michelle Malkin has a terrific roundup of links (scroll down a ways) to get you up to speed.

The so-called "reform community" has reacted sharply, but is this prospect far-fetched? Bloggers played a crucial role in bringing down Tom Daschle in South Dakota, so the bitter immediate reaction of the "reform community" suggests that the blogosphere is on to something and thwarted their plans for a stealth offensive against the internet. Moreover, as our late friend John Wettergreen agued back in the 1980s, the logic of the FEC and several other agencies is toward "total regulation." Although the blogosphere would appear impossible for government to regulate or contain, the logic of their trying to do so is entirely consistent with how they already regulate political speech.

Peter: Can we somehow add a pitchfork symbol to go along with the NLT coffee cups?

Discussions - 2 Comments

The fact that the FEC is contemplating regulation is proof that they don’t understand the nature of blogs or the internet.

And I wonder, if a community of like minded people getting together to post onpinions about subjects, news, and ideas is seem as a threat, what’s the difference between getting together online, or chatting in someone dinning room over cocktails? What if I have a "conservative party" where we have a dinner and talk about events and how to make a difference in the next election? At what point does the government draw the line and say this is stopping speach, not regulating it?

It seems the more the ’Bush=Hitler’ republicans gain popularity, the more the liberal arm of politics wants to truely take away the most basic of rights.

I think that Brad Smith was just trying to stir things up in the blogosphere with his CNET interview. There is not going to be any Orwellian oversight on links to political sites, despite Brad’s speculations over trying to calculate the value of a link or a webpage.

The possible FEC concern involves when weblogs are part of an effort coordinated by a candidate’s campaign staff. Brad Smith suggested that it would be difficult to distinguish between established weblogs and start-up blogs, and between journalism websites associated with a print or broadcast company and those that publish exclusively online. But I think it’s quite easy to make these distinctions.

I suspect Brad’s concern is that some members of the FEC want to see an analogy between the web and direct mail. If websites are merely electronic solicitations, what privileges the e-solicitation from facing the same oversight as direct mail? Brad raises these other issues as specters, and he may well have legitimate concerns that any initial attempts at oversight will necessarily lead to more sinister forms. Yet I don’t see the FEC anytime soon regulating blogrolls of personal websites.

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