April 1, 2005

A New Public Square? No Fooling.

The Federal Election Commission opens public comment for sixty days on Monday, April 4 regarding its plan to renovate the online space for national politics. Sound ambitious? It is.

Last year, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Shays v. FEC that the Commission’s hands-off-the-Internet approach to regulating campaign communications and finance could not stand. Accordingly, the FEC has begun an inordinately complicated process of figuring out how to reconcile the new medium with the existing laws and regulations of the land. Its Notice of Public Rulemaking (or NPRM), [here at fec.gov], represents the initial blueprint for the renovation. The text contains thirty questions for citizens to help them answer, along with numerous invitations for comment.

For a more discursive introduction to the concepts and issues involved, check out the panel discussion produced yesterday by the Internet Caucus Advisory Committee. Entitled “McCain-Feingold in Cyberspace: How Much Should Bloggers and the Internet Be Regulated?” the event may be heard and seen through a variety of formats at www.netcaucus.org.