FEC rules on internet campaign finance additional laws

For a blogger, this is great news. However, for a camapign, I'm unsure of the implications of their ruling. From the sounds of it, Google ads and Blogads are now going to have to carry a disclaimer. I can't imagine that even being practical for candidates to run disclaimers in their search-term ads. Here's the summary (pdf)

How do the new rules affect Internet political activity by individuals?
The new rules explicitly exempt from regulation the Internet activities of unpaid individuals or groups of individuals. An individual or group of individuals ability to develop webpages, send electronic messages, provide hyperlinks, forward material that has been cut and pasted from political websites, or otherwise use computer or Internet resources for political activity are all exempt from regulation. (§ 100.94 and § 100.155)

How do the new rules affect the media?
Under the FEC.s existing media exemption, news stories, commentaries, and editorials (including endorsements) are exempt from regulation unless the media facility is owned or controlled by a candidate, political party, or FEC registered political committee. The new rules make clear that the media exemption applies to Internet-only media, as well as to the online components of traditional media. (§ 100.73 and § 100.132)

How do the new rules affect bloggers?
Bloggers will not be regulated under the new rules. Uncompensated blogging, whether done by an individual or a group of individuals, is exempt from regulation under the new individual Internet exemptions. (§ 100.94 and § 100.155). These exemptions are extended to incorporated blogs that are wholly owned by an individual or individuals, are engaged primarily in Internet activities, and derive a substantial portion of their income from their Internet activities. Additionally, a blogger or blog may qualify for the media exemption. (§100.73 and § 100.132)

What about bloggers who receive compensation from campaigns?
Under the new rules, a blogger who receives compensation is not required to disclose such payments. However, campaigns must continue to report such disbursements on their FEC filings.

Do I need a disclaimer on my website?
Regardless of the content that appears on an individual or groups website, a disclaimer is not required unless the individual or group is a FEC registered political committee. FEC registered political committees must place disclaimers on all of their websites that are available to the general public. (§ 110.11)

Do I need a disclaimer on my Internet advertisement?
Because Internet advertisements are public communications, an individual or group must include a disclaimer on any Internet advertisement that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified Federal candidate, or on any Internet advertisement that solicits contributions. FEC registered political committees must place disclaimers on any Internet advertisements they pay for, regardless of content. (§ 110.11)

Do I need a disclaimer on my email?
Regardless of content, an individual or group does not need to put a disclaimer on its email unless the individual or group is a FEC registered political committee. FEC registered political committees must place disclaimers on all emails of more than 500 substantially similar communications. (§ 110.11)

Can I use my work computer for political Internet activities?
The FEC's long-standing rules allow for the occasional, isolated, or incidental use. of work facilities by employees for political activities. The new rules specify that this exemption allows employees to use work computers both at and away from the workplace for volunteer political activity, as long as they do so on their own time. The rules reiterate that corporations and unions are prohibited from coercing employees to participate in political activities. Additionally, a corporation may not condition the availability of its space and computers on their being used for political activity, or on support for or opposition to any particular candidate or political party.
(§ 114.9)

I don't trust anyone who capitalizes the internet.

Tags: FEC, internet regulation (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Re: FEC rules on internet campaign finance additio

Paging Adam B, please pick up the white courtesy telephone and press 0.

by blogswarm 2006-03-24 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet campaign finance additio

I hear you.  Still analyzing them, as are my clients.  Full text and early reactions from others here.

On Jerome's disclaimer question, I'll just note that we also flagged this issue to the FEC.  See page 15 on Google AdWords, where we suggested that the disclaimer requirement could be filled by a disclaimer on the linked-to page rather than in the ad itself.

by Adam B 2006-03-24 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet campaign finance additio

Damn, eight minutes later you responded to my comment.

I don't think anyone expects you to solve all of the mysteries of this late on a Friday night, but I think everyone will sleep better knowing that you are on it.

by blogswarm 2006-03-24 06:12PM | 0 recs
You're supposed to capitalize "Internet"

...and, technically, Web, because they're proper nouns (i.e., they refer to one and only one specific construct).

You would, however, lowercase "the internets."

by mdeatherage 2006-03-24 06:35PM | 0 recs
Well...

Actually, internet can go either way.  Originally, it was not capitalized because it simply refers to any network made up of smaller, communicating networks (certainly not a "specific construct").  The largest internet is what, for a while, was known as the World Wide Web.  We thought that was goofy, so we started calling it The Internet.

Of course, Al Gore capital-ized the internet.

by ThomasAllen 2006-03-25 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Well...

Technically, though, you're right --Internet should be capitalized when it refers to the single largest internet in existence.  But standardized capitalization rules are so 20th Century!

by ThomasAllen 2006-03-25 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet

What about bloggers who receive compensation from campaigns?

Under the new rules, a blogger who receives compensation is not required to disclose such payments. However, campaigns must continue to report such disbursements on their FEC filings.

Well that is a mistake. Bloggers, in this case, like journalists, who receive compensation ought to disclose it. This regulation made not have made such behavior illegal but it is certainly unethical and I would strongly urge all bloggers receiving compensation from campaigns or elected officials or government agencies, as I would advise and urge journalists, to disclose such compensation. To not do so is unethical and deceitful.

by Andrew C White 2006-03-25 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet

It's not a mistake. It's the same case with radio and television.

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-03-25 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet

I gues that is my point Jerome. When the Bush administration pays journalists to spew propoganda it should be required that the disclaimer be evident and obvious. The same should be true of bloggers. I'm not on anyone's case here (except for the Armstrong Williams of the world - that was his name wasn't it?) but being above board and open about things is simply the right thing to do.

Peace,

Andrew

by Andrew C White 2006-03-27 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet

Should they?  Of course.  Should they be legally required to?  No.  Both for the parallelism reason that Jerome states by also for a pragmatic reason: I'd hate for bloggers to be haled into an FEC investigation because some other poster believes that a rival is on the take.  Just think about how many times here someone asks "hey, are you getting paid?"

Now imagine someone submitting a complaint to the FEC with such suspicions.

by Adam B 2006-03-25 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet

If bloggers post a disclaimer when they are getting paid then I assume the one's that aren't aren't. If no disclaimers are posted and someone is hawking a candidate or position against all evidence or previous positions expressed then I begin to wonder seriously about what is going on.

Blogging is free speech... until it is paid speech... then it is paid speech not free speech.

Free speech is unregulated. Free speech is regularly subjectng to regulation.

by Andrew C White 2006-03-27 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet

Do I need a disclaimer on my Internet advertisement?

No problem with anything there... except... what constitutes an advertisement?

If I blog an entry about a campaign and end it by urging people to contribute to the campaign... is that potentially an advertisement?

by Andrew C White 2006-03-25 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet

No . . . an advertisement is something that has been paid for and sits on another's site.  Otherwise, ALL advocacy is conceivably an "advertisement".

by Adam B 2006-03-26 03:35AM | 0 recs
Re: FEC rules on internet

Thanks Adam.

That's the way I would naturally understand it but definitions can be tricky things if they are not spelled out.

Peace,

Andrew

by Andrew C White 2006-03-27 11:16AM | 0 recs
by posco 2006-12-02 09:26AM | 0 recs

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