Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More Proposals for Regulating Internet Speech

Another itteration of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the guardians?

The following article continues an exploration of  proposed limits to free speech   -     and my sense that when free speech is limited for some all are at risk; all speech on the internet is at risk if objected to.

Here are excerpts from an article forwarded to me:

""The FEC (Federal Election Commissioon) already regulates paid Internet advertising, but free Internet posts are exempt from campaign-finance regulations. On Oct. 24 Ms. Ravel (vice-chair of FEC) stated that in doing so “the Commission turned a blind eye to the Internet’s growing force in the political arena.” She said that a “re-examination of the Commission’s approach to the Internet and other emerging technologies is long overdue,” and vowed to hold hearings next year on the matter—a clear hint that the goal is to remove the regulatory exemption for free online political speech...."

Lest we think this is just an inquiry without any history or hidden agenda, we need to remember that "in April 2012, when Ms. Ravel was chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (a state agency comparable to the FEC) and I (the article author Mr. Rotunda) was a commissioner, she announced that the commission would issue regulations governing political speech on the Internet. The rules, she said, would even govern bloggers outside the state. Californians raised a fuss and her efforts got nowhere"

The articles conclusions are:

"The intellectual godfather of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, published his famous pamphlet, “Common Sense,” anonymously. Political speech regulation of the kind proposed by Ms. Ravel would have required Paine to disclose his identity and who helped finance the publication. The authors of the Federalist Papers also wrote anonymously. They would be surprised to learn that the government they helped create would make their efforts on its behalf illegal.

The theory behind limiting political campaign contributions is the fear that a contributor might secure special access to an officeholder or secure his, or his successor’s, secret promise to vote for or against a piece of legislation. This fear does not apply when someone is arguing publicly for or against a law, regardless of who may or may not have paid him to do so.

The Federal Election Commission exists solely to protect the public against potential corruption of public officials. It has no authority to regulate pure political speech, which is what the Web does: It disseminates pure political speech."

The full article is here: