Friday, September 23, 2005

American Cyberpolice Laws (soon)

The government is considering the freedom of the Internet and they don’t like it. Scott E. Thomas, Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, makes the case that government must expand into cyberspace. The Chinese Communists have a technical manual on the subject, but the CIA has probably already provided the Commissioner a translated copy.
US Committee on House Administration: September 22, 2005: (.pdf) I hope to make a few basic point: (1) The commission’s 2002 regulations mistakenly adopted a ‘total carve out’ for Internet communications that exempts from core statutory provisions even paid campaign advertising: (2) There are ways for the Commission to rectify the situation by regulating only Internet activity that raises the concerns underlying the core statutory provision while leaving the vast majority of Internet activity, including blogging, uninhibited: and (3) Congress should await the Commission’s effort and should not compound the current problem with enactment of the same ‘total carve out’ approach.
Regulations adopted by the Commission in 2002 exempt the Internet from existing campaign finance regulations and the Commissioner considers this a MISTAKE. In America there is still a means of communication outside the REGULATORY control of the political class and this is viewed as a BAD THING. Truly free speech, enabled by money to reach millions is feared as a threat which must be controlled.
In sum, as a result of the poor decisions made by the Commission in the rulemaking process, party committees will be using ‘soft money’ to pay for Internet ads bashing candidates; corporations, unions, foreign nationals, and wealthy individuals will be paying for Internet related expenses of requesting candidates and parties; and the public won’t have a clue who is paying for virtually all Internet advertising they will see.
The public is stuck on stupid in the mindset of the political class. The American consumer, immersed from first cognition in an atmosphere of competing claims about products and services, is an extremely good judge of value. It is, therefore, absurdly arrogant to believe Americans loose this ability to make rational judgments on competing political hucksterism. A lot of money promoting good value gets results, but a thousand internet startups have amply demonstrated that bad ideas just won’t fly.
The Internet is a wonderful tool for political activity. Its accessibility and generally low cost are invigorating the body politic. By the same token, its increased usage by candidates and parties and the increased resources being put into this technology for campaign advertising suggest a need to be cautious about attempts to ‘exempt’ all Internet activity for federal campaign finance laws.
Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are competing on principles. Both sides have gone ‘all in’ on emotional issues with the expectation that average Americans only vote when aroused. This is the politics of the tried and true. The safe way to hold serve and gain ground only when the opposition falters. This is the politics of the timid and fearful, and nothing highlights this more than fear of true free speech, 'exempt' from control. The parents are restless so every blogger needs to be ready to fight for your right to party.