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FEC approves final Net regulations, thanks McCain, Feingold, Shays, Meehan

Thanks to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, and a lawsuit 
brought by Reps. Shays and Meehan, and the unwillingness of the FEC's 
Democratic commissioners to fight it, we now have Internet election 
regulations. Yay.

They're here:
http://www.fec.gov/agenda/2006/mtgdoc06-20.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/agenda/2006/mtgdoc06-20a.pdf

Background is here:
http://news.com.com/2010-1071_3-5637778.html

Former FEC Chairman Brad Smith sounds a cautionary note here:

http://brad-smith.redstate.com/story/2006/3/25/113459/934
The biggest problem with the rules is simply the principle established - 
the internet is now to be subject to regulation.  The FEC can change the 
rules - extend them - when it wants.  My friend and current Commission 
Chairman Michael Toner put it best most succinctly in a private 
conversation we had while I was still on the Commission a while back: 
"Isn't there any area of political discussion that we can just leave 
unregulated?"  The answer, for far too many, in the so-called "reform" 
community, in Congress, in the MSM and elsewhere, appears to be "no, 
there is no area of political discussion that should be free from 
government regulation." So most web activity - except for paid ads - 
will remain exempt, but as a matter of administrative grace rather than 
right.  Rick Hasen, who runs the widely cited Election Law site, is 
already disappointed that the rule doesn't require more mandatory 
disclosure.  We can expect "reform" groups such as Democracy 21 and the 
Campaign Legal Center to regularly lobby for extensions of the FEC 
approach to regulate more activity.

-Declan

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Mar 29, 2006 in category free-speech


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