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Online Freedom of Speech Act up for Vote


Tomorrow the House votes on HR 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act. This bill is vital to the blogosphere and is supported by both the left and right. The NY Times is placing a lot of pressure to get this bill defeated.

Krempasky at Red State has this to say:

Of all the work you've done on this issue - no day is more important that today. Start with this list. Call the Republicans that wobbled last time 1606 was on the floor. And don't stop there.

Here are the relevant points:

  • HR 1606 is a simple bill that simply puts into law the existing status quo. It preserves the system under which we operated for the 2004 elections - WHEN THERE WAS NO CORRUPTION OR SCANDAL. It's supported by bloggers left and right.
  • HR 4900 (also known as the CDT proposal) is NOT an acceptable alternative to HR 1606. It's attractive, and while complicated it has a lot to like - and we can look at it after we pass 1606 - but this is the bottom line: if HR 1606 is not passed TOMORROW, the FEC will issue regulations for politics on the internet.
  • The reformers regulators merely want to delay the process while the Commission will be forced to issue regulations.
  • This is a TINY, TINY law. It does NOT open up a gaping loophole - and you can support BCRA and still believe that this little tiny section of American politics ought to be free. (don't trust me - ask FEC Chairman Michael Toner)

Seriously folks - it's gameday. Get on the horn. If you need the views of a democrat - check Bob Bauer. He's all over it.

Update [2006-3-15 12:36:51 by krempasky]: - about an hour ago - the Chairman of the FEC announced a one-week pause in the final vote on regulations TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO HR 1606 tomorrow. It couldn't be more clear: pass HR 1606 or face regulations on the internet. Period.

This bill should be important to all who blog and care about free speech. In fact, Wizbang's Kevin Aylward was one of the original signers of the Online Coaltion.

Others blogging:
Skeptic's Eye
Daily Kos (yes, we're in this one together)

Update: The House vote has been delayed for a week because McCain & company keep playing political games.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Online Freedom of Speech Act up for Vote:

» bRight & Early linked with Keep Free Speech Free

» Stix Blog linked with Bulliten

Comments (17)

Writers should care not one... (Below threshold)

Writers should care not one whit about this bill, as this bill does not guarantee freedom of speech in the blogosphere, or anywhere else.

The Constitution of the United States does that. And quite well, I might add. The Legislative branch of government is impotent in its attempts to regulate free speech.

This bill is, on the other hand, designed to allow unfettered, unregulated advertising and fundraising by politicians on the internet. It has nothing whatsoever to do with free speech, and everything to do with protecting the imcumbencies of existing politicians.

You've been hoodwinked.

Kim - thanks for the post -... (Below threshold)

Kim - thanks for the post - just so you know, the vote is tomorrow. Oh, and mr. rightnumber one...pfft. you nothing but the Public Citizen talking points, which are, of course, completely wrong.

The constitution offers no ... (Below threshold)

The constitution offers no protection when the Supreme Court will uphold a travesty like McCain-Fiengold.

They can stick their specia... (Below threshold)

They can stick their special online speech regulation exemption right where they they can stick their Bipartisan Campaign Speech Regulation Act.

If there's any room left they can shove their FEC regulations too.

Those are my talking points.

McCain Feingold is a traves... (Below threshold)

McCain Feingold is a travesty, but I don't like this special law that "fixes" the situation for the internet. This situation places bloggers in the position of saying "McCain Feingold is a travesty, but as long as I'm exempted, the rest of you will just have to put up with it."

I say our energies must be spent on getting rid of the whole mess, not creating band aids.

Asking for this special law... (Below threshold)

Asking for this special law that "fixes" McCain Fiengold for bloggers is like saying, "You can trample free speech ever there as long as you don't do it over here."

It'll be real nice for bloggers until some future congress decides to eliminate the exception and trample of bloggers speech rights too.

Free Speech is a right - not a favor.

Hmmmm,Maybe you ha... (Below threshold)


Maybe you haven't been had. Maybe you're part of the problem!

You see, you seem to want people to think we need a LAW that protects our speech, and clearly we don't. But even if we did, this law doesn't. This law's purpose is to UNREGULATE advertising on the internet. It's all about the money.

What this law WILL do is guarantee Wizbang a continual source of unregulated political advertising dollars from incumbent politicians.

So, please, spare us the "free speech" BS.

Will Wizbang REFUSE to benefit from this law which is shamefully being characterized as some sort of speech-protection by promising it won't accept campaign advertising resulting from it?

Or, is Wizbang just in it for the money?

I think I know the answer.

"I think I know the answer"... (Below threshold)

"I think I know the answer"

Yea, and I think I know some sour grapes when I see it, too.

The U.S. House of Represent... (Below threshold)

The U.S. House of Representatives is about to vote on a bill to grant one group of citizens special exemption from speech regualtions and there are people who think this is a good thing?

Is there room in the hand-basket for all of us?

That a law has to be passed to protect speech on the internet from the ravages of McCain/Fiengold ought to send a clear message to anyone who bought the B.S. that it was about campaign finance.

I don't have to worry about... (Below threshold)

I don't have to worry about it. I'm out of US jurisdiction and so is my server but it wouldn't matter if I was in the US as long as my server wasn't, there is nothing they can do to regulate content on foreign servers. How long does anyone think it'll take bloggers to figure this out?

Bullwinkle,Yes it ... (Below threshold)


Yes it would be fairly easy to get around any regulation they attempted to put on internet speech. But that's not the point. The point is the regulation should not exist in the first place. There should be no law from which on-line speech requires special protection. In other words no law abridging freedom of speech.

But Stephen, regulation DOE... (Below threshold)

But Stephen, regulation DOESN'T exist.

McCain-Feingold does not prohibit free speech.

It can't.

The First Amendment to the Constitution GUARANTEES free speech in the blogosphere, and everywhere else.

We need NO laws to protect free speech.

Rightnumberone,If ... (Below threshold)


If McCain/Fiengold doesn't regulate speech why is the bill to exempt bloggers from it's regulation called the "Online Freedom of Speech Act?"

Stephen,Because if... (Below threshold)


Because if they called it the "Protect Incumbents By Unregulating All Advertising on the Internet" Act, nobody would vote for it.

McCain/Fiengold DOES NOT PROHIBIT speech on the internet. It prohibits UNRESTRICTED fundraising and advertising on the internet.

If any government entity, such as the FEC, attempted to implement McCain/Feingold in such a way that, say, your average blogger was prevented from expressing an opinion about candidate X, then the FEC would be hauled into court and their interpretation of this law would be quickly shot down on First Amendment grounds.

You see, its the FEAR that the FEC might use this law to restrict speech that has people in a dither. The FEC hasn't issued such rules, although some would have you believe that it is just around the corner.

If you read the bill, what the bill does is to UNRESTRICT advertising and fundraising on the internet; we have NO laws that restrict free speech on the internet, or anywhere else.

You see, in the US, "Congress SHALL MAKE NO LAW ... abridging the freedom of speech...". If they try it, it will be ruled unconstitutional.

So if your concern is with free speech, then relax. The First Amendment already protects you from Congress. There is NOTHING Congress can do to abridge the freedom of speech.

What it CAN do is regulate advertising and fundraising. The only people who are up in arms over McCain/Feingold are people who want to make money accepting political advertising.

This includes Wizbang.

They are using the "free speech" issue as cover for their less than altruistic purposes.

Let's argue over whether political advertising should be regulated or unregulated, but let's NOT do it by framing the issue as one "threatening" free speech.

Try and run an ad inside of... (Below threshold)

Try and run an ad inside of 60 days before a federal election that mentions a candidate and tell me McCain/Fiengold does not regulate speech. BCRA may say it is only regulating finance, and the SCOTUS may have bought than BS, but the net effect is a limit on speech.

I'm up in arms over McCain/Fiengold and I don't make money from advertising. I'm up in arms because of the limits it puts on political speech.

I would be very interested in hearing exactly how one argues "whether political advertising should be regulated or unregulated" without bringing Freedom of Speech into the discussion. Is political advertising not speech?

Stephen,You're now... (Below threshold)


You're now on point. You are now arguing that McCain/Feingold regulates advertising, and that advertising is the equivalent of speech.

That's an argument we can have; but that argument is DIFFERENT than saying that bloggers are facing some sort of limit on what they can write, and framing the issue as a "free speech" issue for bloggers.

This is about unregulated advertising, which benefits bloggers DIRECTLY. Framing the issue as a "bloggers won't be able to write about candidates" issue is a way of masking the true issue.

If you take no dollars from candidates, you have nothing to fear. If your site is one that solely exists to get candidates elected, and your pocket stuffed with their cash, then perhaps you have something to fear in this law.

It's the page I have always... (Below threshold)

It's the page I have always been on.

If you accept government's limiting of political speech in one area, i.e. advertising then you have given up the concept of Freedom of speech as a right.

Free speech is either a right or it is a favor granted by the government. It cannot be both

My own blog is so small in terms of audience and impact that it wouldn't show up on any regulatory radar. Even if I wanted it, no one would pay thousands of dollars to have their ad seen by my hundred visitors a day. But that is not the point.

A group of people organized for whatever purpose, cannot pool their resources and advertise to support candidate A or oppose Candidate B. That act of speech has been banned.

To say that the speech is not banned only the value of the contribution to the candidate is regulated is putting lipstick on a very very ugly pig.






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