{ An Autopsy of Democracy }

Monday, November 07, 2005

Online Freedom of Speech Act: First Amendment protection, or gaping Campaign Finance loophole?

I'm going to suspend judgment on this for right now, because I suspect it's much more complicated than it first appears.

But comments are encouraged.

While I don't like the notion of regulating blogs (which most bloggers I have read mistakenly assume this bill is aimed at preventing), I'm also wary of the Republicans' motivations on this. (Weren't they the ones so insanely pissed off about the 527 groups being unregulated? Or did I imagine all that?)

The bill is bipartisan -- Reid authored a similar bill in the Senate, and Conyers and others strongly supported and voted for it in the House. But the Democrats opposed it much more-so than did the Republicans. Why? (Call me a cynic for doubting that the party of the U.S.A. Patriot Act and opposed to the FOIA is terribly concerned with freedom, or that the party sharing the ideals of the ACLU wants to stifle free speech. Something just doesn't smell right.)

My only strong opinion on it right now is that the wording of the bill is idioitc and makes no sense whatsoever:

"To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to exclude communications over the Internet from the definition of public communication."

How is it NOT "public communication"? Of course it is. (I suppose some is private, but 99.9% is public.)

The cynical side of me goes beyond campaign fianance concerns to ask: if it's not "public communication," then is it necessarily "private communication" -- as in, can be owned, bought and sold, taken over by powerful private industries, controlled by corporations, etc. etc.?

Don't get me wrong, I think the internet is the last best hope for democracy, and epitomizes the spirit of the First Amendment.

My concern is that the internet must remain pretty much how it is now, rather than becoming like the corporate media -- 5 or so multi-billion dollar mega-corporations own pretty much everthing, control the content (feel free to speak, if you can afford it), cater to advertisers, and make profit hand-over-fist by using the public airwaves that WE OWN and selling US (the audience, the real "product," to the advertisers -- let's face it, that's all we are).

However, I'm not sure I see any need for regulating the internet right now.

Thoughts? . . .


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