The Federal Election Commission held hearings on their proposed rules for the application of campaign finance rules to blogs and websites. Even with the rules currently being discussed group sites like Wizbang, The Volokh Conspiracy, and thousands of others might not be exempt. Incorporated sites like DailyKos, Gawker Media, RedState, RawStory, etc. would have to qualify for a government cleared media exemption on case-by-case basis. Mike Krempasky attended the hearings today and has a list of important issues still not resolved (here and here).
But wait… That’s not the big news.
Just a few weeks ago FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith sounded the alarm bells that bloggers and new media sites were in danger, and he was roundly derided by fellow commissioners and Senators as an alarmist or just plain wrong. It turns out that government officials of both parties who were denying that they were going to be regulating individual bloggers were, all the while, drafting rules to do just that.
According to the March 10 document, political Web sites would be regulated by default unless they were password-protected and read by fewer than 500 people in a 30-day period. Many of those Web sites would have been required to post government-mandated notices or risk violating campaign finance laws.
Nothing to worry about my ass! The blogoshpere owes Commissioner Smith a serious debt of gratitude! You can leave comments for him here and I’ll forward them along to him.
RedState has the secret first draft document available for download. As they note, “Without the public outcry, what sort of rule would have been released yesterday? This heinous draft, mind you – is only two weeks old.”
The only way to ensure complete freedom online is to keep up the pressure, since the FEC (to their credit) is listening. The Online Coalition will keep the pressure on the FEC. Join over 3,100 of your fellow bloggers in signing our letter to FEC Chairman Thomas online, and let your voice be heard.