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Election Commission Takes a Light Touch With Net Regs 102

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the shuffling-paperwork dept.
CNet is reporting that the Federal Election Commission released a 96-page volume of internet regulations last Friday. From the article: "The rules [PDF] say that paid Web advertising, including banner ads and sponsored links on search engines, will be regulated like political advertising in other types of media. They also say bloggers can enjoy the freedoms of traditional news organizations when endorsing a candidate or engaging in political speech.
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Election Commission Takes a Light Touch With Net Regs

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  • How nice of them. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rebeka thomas (673264) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:19AM (#14993251)
    They also say bloggers can enjoy the freedoms of traditional news organizations when endorsing a candidate or engaging in political speech.

    Aren't we lucky, they're so gracious as to allow us our constitutionally protected free speech. Like they had a choice.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:37AM (#14993275)
    > This election sponsored by Diebold

    s/sponsored/decided/
  • Light touch? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kijori (897770) <ward...jake@@@gmail...com> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:43AM (#14993284)
    In what way does regulating the internet in the same way as print media qualify as a light touch? Just seems like fairness to me.
  • "Light" touch?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Entropy (6967) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:15AM (#14993392)
    96 pages of regulations is "light"? Only by government standards, geesh!

    How about a lighter touch: the US Constitution is about 6 pages.

    Or, gosh golly & gee wiz, how about an even lighter touch than that? The first amendment is 45 words ..

    Or how about: HANDS OFF THE INTERNET YOU ASSHATS!

    Yeah, I think that sounds better :)
  • by AnonymousPrick (956548) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:20AM (#14993399)
    I would have said less flamebait and more funny :-)

    I thought it was funny and the little bit of an edge added to the sarcasm. Some of the folks who get their mod points take themselves waaayyy too seriously. What's the point in modding someone down? They'll just get lost in the noise if nobody mods them up. And in the meantime, there's one less mod point for folks who say something really interesting or insightful who do get lost in the noise because some mod had to use their points to mod someone down that they disagreed with. I very rarely see someone modderated as "Flamebait" or "Troll" who really deserve it. And most of the time, folks who start their posts with "You're stupid..", "You're an idiot.." or something that I considered to be rude and "Flamebait" get modded insightful.

  • by Entropy (6967) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:26AM (#14993416)
    The point was freedom of money to buy political speech while keeping the money trail secret.

    Wow .. what a DAMN SHAME to have unregulated speech!

    Hey, if you don't want to listen to someone who may have been payed by "Big Politics", then perchance why don't you do something about it, like ask the journalists to affirm or deny they are being paid by politicians for their stories? You can challenge them to go on record. You could even get them to do this contractually, if you wanted to. (Via subscription, since you're paying them money, you could then file a class action against them for violating their agreed upon terms of contract ..)

    It's called "taking responsibility". But you'd rather try to take the easy way out (by creating or supporting the creation of) laws which will "do the job" - which they never do. Why? Because it never CAN do it. One may as well write a law suspending gravity. Or try to keep water from flowing back to the oceans. Money will enter politics because money and politics share so much in common - power. Do you think that *maybe* instead of making the government BIGGER (giving it more power), the solution is to make it smaller - so it has less power? And less draw for the power mad troglodytes who infest Congress (and the other two branches)? But as long as it is beneficial to spend millions for a Congressional seat, those millions WILL be spent.
  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:30AM (#14993420) Journal
    Aren't we lucky, they're so gracious as to allow us our constitutionally protected free speech. Like they had a choice.

    But by "giving" us the right, they reserve their right to take it away in the future, if the right is "abused". So they have set a precident that may come in handy in the future, as long as those nasty courts don't interfere.

    Fortunately for them, by the time a court interferes, the election would likely be over, rendering the point moot for that election season, and giving them the opportunity to create a differently worded "right of speach". Rinse, repeat.
  • Re:Light touch? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:41AM (#14993446) Journal
    In what way does regulating the internet in the same way as print media qualify as a light touch? Just seems like fairness to me.

    To me, the biggest fear is that they HAD to clarify this. Publishing on the internet should be regarded exactly the same as publishing flyers, TV ads, books, etc. WITHOUT clarification. The job of determining this has traditionally been left to the courts anyway.

    Anytime the government decides to regulate speach, you are entering very dangerous waters. This included McCain-Feingold or any other law that puts any limitation on political speech.

    Some of us believe that campaign contributions should be 100% without limits, but 100% reported and accounted for so the public can see exactly who is buying and selling our politicians.
  • by NelsChristian (66295) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:52AM (#14993475)
    With the same regulations in place as for the traditional media, we can avoid the situation where paid bloggers swamp the net with propaganda with no oversight or control.


    In contrast to the current situation where newspapers can spend whatever they want on slanted news and opinions, the bloggers are limited to $5000. Sorry, this is not an even playing field.


    Since reading bloggers is a totally user driven experience, compared to adds on TV or even print, there is no reason for any limits.

    The USA has a tradition of anonymous political speech, starting with the founders. Both print and broadcast media have bandwidth limits; with enough money you can saturate the channel. That's not true of blogging.

  • by stealth.c (724419) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:52AM (#14993476)
    And yet your description of our freedom of speech betrays your unconscious acceptance of a subtler level of totalitarianism.

    Constitutionally protected? If that is the case your freedom comes from the gracious allowance of that document. My liberty (of speech and action) comes standard with my humanity. I don't need a 200-year-old paper to grant it to me. The only trouble is that I live under a government and in a society that will do things I do not desire if I say or do certain things; I modify my behavior accordingly.

    We would have been better off without a Bill of Rights. Since the first ten amendments are enumerations of things government CAN NOT do, government has plausible (but still wrong) ground to assume there are other powers it can take on because nothing says it can't. The Constitution was better as a document enumerating the things government CAN do, with the assumption being that all other powers are strictly excluded.

    In essence, our precious bill of rights has doomed us to totalitarianism. The Constitution may have slowed the process, but that's where we're headed anyway.

    Nevertheless, I do agree with you. It's ridiculous for anyone to say they "allowed" anyone to say anything on the Internet. I could just as easily say that I allow the sun to rise.
  • by Verteiron (224042) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @11:03AM (#14993503) Homepage
    "It astonishes me to find... [that so many] of our countrymen... should be contented to live under a system which leaves to their governors the power of taking from them the trial by jury in civil cases, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce, the habeas corpus laws, and of yoking them with a standing army. This is a degeneracy in the principles of liberty... which I [would not have expected for at least] four centuries." --Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1788.

    Jefferson would be ashamed. Even -with- the bill of rights, these freedoms are being chipped away at by government in only half the time he predicted...
  • Full disclosure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Saturday March 25, 2006 @11:25AM (#14993565)
    Require full disclosure of who's-financing-what (for $ amounts above a certain cutoff), but otherwise political speech should be largely unregulated as the First Amendment states. Even that restriction probably shouldn't get past the First Amendment but it'd be an improvement over the current jobs program for lawyers.

    The cure for free speech is more speech.
  • by sorak (246725) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @11:44AM (#14993625)
    We would have been better off without a Bill of Rights. Since the first ten amendments are enumerations of things government CAN NOT do, government has plausible (but still wrong) ground to assume there are other powers it can take on because nothing says it can't. The Constitution was better as a document enumerating the things government CAN do, with the assumption being that all other powers are strictly excluded.

    This was actually an argument that some of the Founding Fathers made against the Bill of Rights at the time it was drafted. That argument was the reason that the 9th Amendment was tacked on. It says, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

    But in spite of the 9th Amendment, the fact that a declared right is not enumerated in the Constitution or its Amendments is frequently used to argue that we do not have that right. For example, the argument against abortion rights almost always begins with "Nowhere in the Constitution does it say..."


    Yep. And that's why anytime a judge rules on the basis of "privacy" or "fair use" or anything that the founding fathers may have intended, but have not directly spelled out, he is denounced as an activist judge.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @12:38PM (#14993822) Homepage Journal
    The FEC is the number one reason we continue our slide towards tyranny. They regulate speech where the 1st Amendment prevents them from trampling on that basic right. They regulate money -- and money is a store of your labor to be used as you please (a form of expression). They regulate who can run as a candidate as they completely destroyed the ability for an independent to raise the needed funds due to the incumbent protection clauses. They also have taken huge steps to destroying the voice of people who are not just against one party or another but against the entire system.

    These laws and these regulations are so counter-freedom that it amazes me that people don't READ THE LAWS and see how attrocious they are. McCain-Feingold should be renamed "The Incumbent Protection Act" -- read it carefully and you'll see that it was written to kill the Greens and the Libertarians and any other 3rd party by reducing their ability to gain financing from a few campaign donors.

    The problem with elections is not money, not corporations, not anything that the politicians say it is. The problem with elections is that the seat one is trying to win has too much power. If you want to fix elections, fix the political seat -- reduce the power of government to where it should be under the Constitution. When the power is reduced, no amount of money will create protectionism, favoritism and cronyism.

    I don't want to be able to enjoy the freedoms because government says I "can." I want to use my freedoms to never worry that government might tell me how narrow those freedoms are becoming.
  • Re:Light touch? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @01:01PM (#14993909) Journal
    giving 5 million to $candidate so he can spend it on campaigning = bad and should be regulated

    spending 5 million selling people you think they should vote for $candidate = first amendment


    So, what you're saying is: first amendment=bad and should be regulated. Don't sweat it. Lots of people believe that [winonadailynews.com].

  • by jheath314 (916607) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @01:06PM (#14993932)
    How the hell did this get modded insightful?

    The SCOTUS isn't there to punish unconstitutional policy, just block it. Accountability should come only through elections. If we equated getting overruled by the courts with treason, that would destroy the system of checks and balances by elevating the courts to a position similar to the Iranian "Council of Guardians." There's simply no way such a system wouldn't be abused: imagine what a court stuffed with Republican appointees would do to a Democrat president, or vice versa.

    Ironic how your post about respecting the Constitution reveals a very basic incomprehension about how the system created by that Constitution actually works.
  • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @01:53PM (#14994115)
    Yeah I agree it's not SCOTUS' job to punish politicians for treason, but I can't agree that accountability should only come from elections. That would mean then the worst punishment a politician might get for violating the supreme law of the land is not being reelected, and as (not only) recent history showed, even this isn't doesn't happen most of the time.

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