Friday, June 03, 2005

Where is the Line?

So, Kos is freaking out. [2] [3]

I must admit, it was a little alarming to see GW's own Carol Darr listed as an "enemy" of Daily Kos and self-proclaimed "citizen journalists" of the world, in his scathing review of her comments to the FEC on behalf of the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet. Relatively new to this argument, I have a few first impressions to share (thanks so much to Kathie's Politech for giving me a super starting point):

1) Some sort of federal regulation of online publications seems inevitable.

2) Kos seems unwilling to yield any ground toward any kind of blog regulation. I'd even call him unreasonable at times, even saying that Darr is an embarrassment to GW.

3) The Online Coalition seems a lot more reasonable in its approach, a somewhat middle ground between Kos and IPDI. Highlights: Blogs do not have to provide disclaimers for involvement on a candidate's campaign and the proposal of not regulating forms of communications (such as blogging), but the nature of the communication. These components free blogs up to communicate freely in a manner that would coincide with the intent of campaign finance law.

3) IPDI...yeah, well, I think its overall message makes a lot of sense, but I do agree with Kos that some of Darr's case aims to protect the mainstream media too much:

"For thirty years the campaign finance laws have made a fundamental distinction between political activists and the news media, in order to protect a free press while at the same time limiting the influence of big money on federal elections. Until recently, the distinction between the news media and rest of us was clear and uncontroversial. Bloggers blur that distinction. If anyone can publish a blog, and if bloggers are treated as journalists, then we can all become journalists."
My problem, and Kos seems to agree, is that so many members of the press are already blurring the line concerning partisan involvement in elections. But the solution, to agree with Darr and IPDI, is not to get rid of that line. Perhaps we should hold James Carville and Bill Press, two openly partisan recipients of the media exemption, to the same standard.

4) Bob Bauer makes a lot of sense, calling for a minimum of restrictions (but clearly delineated standards) on bloggers. After all, it's political speech, and it must be protected, right?

I need input on this one.

8 comments:

Jorge said...

Yeah, Kos really is freaking out as he has been recently about this issue. I don't think he has too much to fear from the FEC, yet. It could develop into a future problem.

I disagree that federal regulation is inevitable. The system seems to be working fine right now. The trouble seems to be that the people making the decisions are out of the loop technologically. A good parallel is the P2P file sharing. Lawmakers try to come to grasps with new ways to stop technology, but the technology is always ahead of the regulation.

And 527 fund raising groups are a prime example of loopholes.

Technological Superiority + Loopholes = No Regulation

Damien said...

Well el jorge,

Never understimate the governments astounding ability to screw something up that is "working fine."

OK ok, cynical and somewhat sarcastic I know, but truthfully, I do think regulataion is somewhat of an inevitablity, if only for the simple fact that, as you even mentioned, the people usually in charge of implementing such regulation don't completely understand the technology that they are regulating.

Also keep in mind that there are always ulterior motives.

File-sharing is as much about protecting the music industry as the Iraq war was about terrorism.

The intellectual property rights precedent that file sharing, if left unregulated, promoted was a scary idea to entities such as pharmacutical corporations, and the biotech industry.

Similarly, if blogging is left completely unchecked, it opens the door for some many other frightening things...like Americans actually having imput in their democracy...how creepy is that???

Idealist said...

It seems to me that we shouldn't make laws until something bad happens, ie until corruption happens. "Congress shall make no law...," right?

When making laws, you always have to go back to the problem that you are trying to address. Right now, I don't see any problems. Similarly, with 527's - what problem are we trying to address? We wanted big donors to not have a hold over our politicians. How can a donor to a 527 have a hold over politicians if the campaign and the 527 can't talk to each other by law? The Sierra Club is a 527, and I don't see any politicians beholden to their agenda. Often, the 527s aren't even giving the campaign message, but they are trying to force their own message into the debate - which is what democracy is about. I don't think you should regulate things just to regulate. (And I'm a Democrat.)

Peter C said...

I think Carol's point is this: in the days before bloggers, media had exemptions in terms of campaign finance regulations, in the interests of maintaining a free flow of information.

If bloggers declare themselves to be media, they too can claim this exemption - which means people like George Soros can say, I'm a blogger.

So 527s become irrelevant - I declare myself a blogger, can give as much money and support as I want to a candidate, and campaign finance laws can't touch me. Is that really what we want - no restrcitions on big money?

Kathie Legg said...

yeah, kos is being unfair and unrealistic. They have even lost a bit of respect in my book.

Admin said...

Hi Mister Toaster,
I was researching file sharing related stuff when I found your blog. While Where is the Line? wasn't exactly what I was after, it made interesting reading so I'll be sure to pop by again. I'm off to find out more information about file sharing. Keep up the good work.

Admin said...

Hi Mister Toaster,
I was researching p2p file sharing related stuff when I found your blog. While Where is the Line? wasn't exactly what I was after, it made interesting reading so I'll be sure to pop by again. I'm off to find out more information about p2p file sharing. Keep up the good work.

Admin said...

Hi Mister Toaster,
I was researching peer to peer file sharing related stuff when I found your blog. While Where is the Line? wasn't exactly what I was after, it made interesting reading so I'll be sure to pop by again. I'm off to find out more information about peer to peer file sharing. Keep up the good work.