Get ready to fight this! Dems hit free speech with move to regulate rules of social media

When incumbents want to modify regulations on political campaigns, they typically have one goal in mind – to protect their incumbency.

That could very well be the impetus behind an announcement Friday from the Federal Election Commission’s Democratic vice chairwoman, Ann M. Ravel, who called for new rules on online campaigning.

The current rule, established in 2006, encourages voter participation by allowing free videos and political websites to remain unregulated. That would change if Democrats on the commission get their way, according to the Washington Examiner.

“A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the Internet and other emerging technologies is long overdue,” Ravel said.

But the commission’s Republican chairman, Lee E. Goodman, argued that if the Democrats’ proposal moves forward, anyone who engages in online political activity could be subject to new regulations, whether they maintain a political blog or run satire websites like “Obama Girl” or “Jib Jab.”

“I told you this was coming,” Goodman told the Examiner. He had previously warned of Democrats’ plans to regulate the Drudge Report and other conservative websites.

Ravel plans to hold meetings next year to discuss expanding regulations on paid political content to include all online political speech.

Groups paying for TV ads are using the Internet exemption to post the same ads online for free, Ravel said.

Goodman disagreed, saying that if a group places the same video online that it has paid to place elsewhere, it’s still covered by the regulation. Only videos posted solely on the Internet for free are exempted, according to the 2006 rule.

Goodman and the two other Republican commissioners say there is no need to update the rule, since it is working as intended.

“This freedom has gained wide acceptance, as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of political videos, websites, blogs and other social media posted on the Internet without so much as an inquiry by the Commission,” the three wrote in a statement, according to the Examiner.

The situation is reminiscent of Lord Eldon’s famous quote about political change: “Reform! Reform! Aren’t things bad enough already?”

Watch this video via the Examiner for a brief look at how important the Internet and social media are in shaping the 2014 midterm election:


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