The Federal Election Commission (FEC) recently held two days of hearingson proposed internet regulations. While the hysterical media has ginned up a new “red scare,” the FEC’s proposals will do nothing to stop bad actors, but will undermine our First Amendment rights to online political speech.
The FEC used the hearings, at which I testified, to consider different approaches — some more restrictive than others — to “improve” disclaimers for online political advertising. Yet FEC regulations already require political action committees (PACs) and other online spenders to use disclaimers where they can, or to click through to fully-disclaimed pages if they can’t. PACs are also required to disclose all of their expenditures monthly or quarterly, and file special reports whenever spending more than modestly to support or oppose candidates.
Existing regulations are clear and comprehensive. The law isn’t the so-called problem being addressed here, though; it’s all that persnickety speech outside the political establishment.