Baronger's Scribblings

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Political Prisoners coming to the United States?

Will bloggers eventually face arrest for their political views?

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. "The commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines" the campaign finance law's purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.


This article is from news.com written by Declan McCullagh and is contains an interview with FEC commissioner Bradley Smith. Though the article just mentions fines, what happens if a blogger refuses to pay and stop their activity. Do they risk jail time for speaking their political view?

Remember bloggers aren't big media corporations. They don't have the deep pockets to pay such fines. What happens if they can't pay? Will they be confiscation of computers? Will they be jail time and seizure of assets, in order to get the fine out of the political activist. The real question is how far is the government going to be willing to push this. What happens if one side gains the controls of politics. How evenly will the law be enforced?

The Professor has an article on this. I agree with him that this is a violation of the first amendment. Through fines and possibly the threat of jail time the federal government is restricting the speech of it's citizens. The irony is that the internet is creating, the type of grass-roots politics that the FEC is supposed to protect. The FEC was supposed to get the big guy out of politics, now they are trying to get rid of the grass-roots.

So the ultimate question is in a free and open democracy, who is more powerful. Will the FEC or the bloggers prevail. We have seen what grass-root movements have done in totalitarian states, what are they capable of in a free one. What will happen when the first blogger has his computer confiscated?

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1 Comments:

  • If a law preventing or interferring with blogging is indeed passed it will only be used against Republican or rightist individuals and organizations. The left is strong because it simply ignores garbage laws in this country while we sheepishly obey and thus lose. It's time to simply ignore some laws and to become more militant. Make noise! Do what the left has done for 40 years. Perhaps a civil war may be necessary to overthrow the Weimar Republic.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/3/05 17:45  

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