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Good News: Political Blogs May Be Regulated By The FEC

Good News: Political Blogs May Be Regulated By The FEC

It look like American bloggers could face a new threat that may make people think twice before criticizing their political leaders online.

Apparently the US government thinks bloggers are becoming a public hazard, and like a few other industries (i.e. airplanes, banks and nuclear power plants) need to be regulated by the government (in this case the Federal Election Commission).

The Obama administration has announced plans to regulate the Internet through the Federal Communications Commission, extending its authority over broadband providers to police web traffic, enforcing “net neutrality.”

Last week, a congressional hearing exposed an effort to give another agency—the Federal Election Commission—unprecedented power to regulate political speech online. At a House Administration Committee hearing last Tuesday, Patton Boggs attorney William McGinley explained that the sloppy statutory language in the “DISCLOSE Act” would extend the FEC’s control over broadcast communications to all “covered communications,” including the blogosphere. (

This law would probably extend to Twitter as well, not to mention Facebook too (the latter who is embroiled in another censorship case via Pakistan).

Although this law (or measure) will probably be struck down by the US Supreme Court (who seems to love the first amendment aka “freedom of speech” for you non-yanks), the fact that the US government would even consider this is troublesome.

Unless the government is dealing with slander, a terrorist threat or a pay per post scandal they shouldn’t bother regulating the blogosphere as that could result in a political backlash (not to mention provide an incentive to host ones content over seas).

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Hopefully common sense prevails regarding this issue, as the last thing bloggers need is to worry about is regulation from “Uncle Sam.”

(via Hot Air)

Update: Corrected grammar.

View Comments (41)
  • Is anybody really shocked that the US government would consider regulating there biggest critics? It’s blogs that are fueling some movements to remove dems from office and replace them with people who do what the American people want. All I got to say is that the Obama administration needs to stop this, this isn’t what we put them in office for. Otherwise lets see what change really is…

  • This is just like the current admin to try this too. To ___ with the constitution! (for them anyway) This is BS! I live in a land where my free speech is protected in no uncertain terms! You know, if it is sooo bad here for them, they should just go to some other country and leave us the HECK alone!

  • I am more than a little nervous about what I hope is a tongue-in-cheek title to this article. The nervousness stems from not being sure that it is indeed tongue-in-cheek.
    “Good News:”? I must look up other Darnell Clayton pieces to learn his sense of humor and perspective on Amendment One type issues.

  • You know, it seems to me that the GOVERNMENT is becoming a hazard to FREEDOM.
    Perhaps a few of the old farts inside the beltway should start reading things. Like the Constitution, Bills, laws (from Arizona), and such.

  • As the article states, this is probably going to be shot down by the Supreme Court. What troubles me, as well as the author, is that the President would have such blatant disregard for the constitution. One of the biggest thing that sets us apart from Communists is our first amendment, and the day that dies, is the day America dies.

  • well here goes.on facebook people are praying for the death of the president.pushing the oil war for all its worth.reminding women they have no control over there own bodies,and god is a white rightwing male. if we were doing another bush,he would have used his kinglike power to have these people praying for his death thrown in jail.there are a zillion adds for people to fight the new law on healthcare,too expensive.ok spend billions on killing americans for oil.thats better.meaness is hard to pinpoint,but it creates a bad vibe for everyone.change is hard for the narrow minded.but vomiting hate and violence on facebook is offensive to me.

  • I happen to know what the First Amendment is and I’m a “non-yanks” person. We are educated people down here in the South! Don’t forget that!

  • charliearts – you sure spoke a lot of hate in your comment to be such a “non-hater.” Your hate toward others who don’t think like you is offensive to me.

  • “That government is best which governs least.” — Henry Thoreau

    It is truly a shame that our government has lost the ability to appease its governed to a degree which would prevent such brash and Constitutionally-invasive means of functioning. But an interesting question then arrives: Has our government ever maintained the ability to appease its populace and settle with its minorities?

    Perhaps, in the grand scheme of history, this instance is not the first to have occurred; Perhaps, even, America and the world will benefit from this surely temporary action in the long haul. Take President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as an example– though many of his actions infringed on the Constitutional foundations of the United States, radical but contrived actions likely saved America from economic and, shortly following, political collapse.

    I’m confident that the Founding Fathers– dramatized as legislatively-rigid patriots–would promote the government which would rule over its people to be somewhat malleable in terms of Constitutional boundaries and Bill of Rights liberties, given poor circumstance to the survival of the government itself; especially in the face of domestic affairs, I’d imagine.

    Though I too believe that our First Amendment right is being infringed upon, it will likely do little evil and much good in terms of sterilizing the biased information which litters the alleys and streets of the Internet. Neutrality, as it were, is the source of the most socially-positive data– It’s much easier to cure the patient when the doctor knows precisely what he’s treating. As too with voters of the United States, and with individual scholars– Information which is gathered for the purpose of presenting a particular stance implies that information which does not do this (but is still related) is being ignored. In such a case, one does not attain a clear understanding of the matter being discussed itself, which in and of itself is bad, but further on leads to improperly-calculated measures of action.

    If the Administration intends on cleaning up the political atmosphere of the Internet (which I doubt it will get through the Senate if its intentions at all suggest otherwise), then I suppose it is a necessary infringement. Doing such will increase the ability of the government itself to function properly (as it is us who ultimately run it), and ensure furthermore that the functions which this Establishment takes are the most reasonable to take.

  • Leslea, I believe he was referring to non Yanks as in non Americans. The Brits and others refer to all Americans as Yanks. It’s not a North/South thing necessarily. Nobody knows better the rights delineated by The U.S. Constitution than the Americans of the South. Educated, freedom loving patriots.

  • C.A.Stave; I am not sure from where your flowery diatribe originates but it certainly is a lot of verbage to, in the end, say absolutely nothing. I was first tipped to your agenda as soon as you insinuated that FDR and his actions were anything but the basis upon which the great majority of our current social/economic problems are built. He was a power hungry socialist in the same tradition as our current President. The next clue was that you feel that there is a need for “sterilizing the biased information which litters the alleys and streets of the Internet.” There is no more democratic collection of opinion than exists on the Internet. There is totally free access for all and the unavoidable result is an absolutely accurate reflection of the sentiment of the entire population,. That it does not fit your or the POTUS’s picture of what the general consensus should be does not negate the truth of the matter. We must NOT screw with the 1st Amendment. It is the foundation of our ultimate freedom and it alone is what separates us from the rest of the world, free or captive.

  • If this is made law, it will be struck down by the Supreme Court, but only after a citizen or group of citizens brings forth a lawsuit. The Supreme Court does not review every law that is implemented.

  • What troubles me is that there isn’t a link to the proposed legislation on this post or any of the ones linked to it. What also troubles me is that the sources linked in this post are more than somewhat biased, or at least I have to assume so because they don’t have any links to the actual legislation either.

    There are no comments from Congress about this, no actual legal experts – it’s all fear and demagoguery. I bet you guys think it’s ok for corporations to pour money into the bank accounts of political candidates too. Try some substance. Please.

    Nobody is restricting the First Amendment. What this law would require is that bloggers to disclose if they’re getting paid to spread their opinion. I know what’s going on with Fox and MSNBC and the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. If we (that is, people who write and post things on the Internet) want to be taken seriously, it’s time to play by some rules.

  • The mainstream media certainly hasn’t told us that Pakistan has captured Mullah Omar. I found that out on a blog that surely Obama would like to regulate. That should have been front-page news in the war on terror. The internet has given Americans a voice that our government is finding hard to ignore and is making them squirm. It’s turned the spotlight on examples of government indifference that a decade ago, were left unseen by all but a few in attendance. If it weren’t for YouTube, Sheila Jackson Lee could have denied making phone calls during her town hall. We wouldn’t have seen the SWAT team marching past grandma tea partiers. And we couldn’t watch the latest Glenn Beck rant because we missed his show that day. We are immersed in information that the government can’t control the flow of through the main-stream media anymore.

    It’s a dangerous day when our government actively seeks to silence the voices of Americans it doesn’t agree with and who are critical of it. Obama sought to fundamentally change America but he can not control the change that is actually happening (which is the change Americans are creating) and it makes him mad.

  • It doesn’t really sound like it from the posts and the article that anyone here including the article’s author has actually read the bill. The DISCLOSE ACT is exactly what it sounds like it does. Deals with DISCLOSURE. It states that bloggers that are just fronts for political campaigns or paying lobbyist groups have to DISCLOSE where there money comes from. Jesus Christ people this is increasing the transparency of “fake” bloggers to let you know whether or not they are getting paid.

    AND it doesn’t stop them from doing so it just states that they must DISCLOSE who is paying them to blog if so. They can continue to blog. If you’re a blogger and not getting paid then nothing will change. I would first question why websites that are up in arms about this have to lose and why they are misrepresenting the bill. Look it up. Read it yourself instead of reading the crap. Don’t be sheep.

    The Bill is H.R. 5175. Pull it up at the Library of Congress (Google H.R. 5175, first link). Read it please. Don’t believe this authors crap. Educate yourself.

  • Oh ok, I get it now…. So that is why George Soros and the other left wing proponents create so many mirroring phony baloney groups to funnel money into, so when this law goes into effect they can still fund their radical bloggers and have their hands look clean.
    “Government: Who funds you? Blog: The Blah Blah Blah Foundation. Government: Who is the Blah Blah Blah Foundation? Blog: Oh, I don’t know it’s all anonymous donations.
    Not that I think the government would ever question any liberal or progressive blog where they get their money, but just in case they seem to have their bases covered..

  • Is it any WONDER to any of you that Obama is equated to Karl MARX? Go to and read up on him. This is an administration that RAMS things down the throats of the people EVEN WHEN the polls are showing that 60/70/80% of the people DO NOT WANT what they’re ramming!

    Remember the phrase: of the people, by the people, for the people?

  • Step one: Take over control of central government.
    Step two: Install officials to all departments that create policy.
    Step three: Take control of financial institutions.
    Step four: Begin manipulation of industry campaign financiers.
    Step five: Restrict abilities of industry competitors.
    Step six: Lure masses into government dependency.
    Step seven: Control masses through legislated restrictions.
    Step eight: Control message by restricting information.
    Step nine: Destroy economy.
    Step ten: Employ military to maintain power.
    Final step: Introduce totalitarian regime to remaining populace.
    Welcome, comrades, to the U.S.S.A.

  • This might be the dumbest, least researched, most overly-reactionary thing I’ve ever read. A few have already commented why above. You have lost me as a subscriber. You can go join other libertarians like Rand Paul and fight for private businesses to once again have the right to discriminate again.

  • Oh yea we can trust obama just look at his policies so far, whats next lets see pay scales, water ,food ,oil, education, trade, banks, health care, small business, anyone who profits, housing, religion except muslums, books, schools, election process, talk radio, border security except for illeagals. He should move to cuba and leave usa alone,

  • A few things:

    #1. In response, I am now starting my own political blog. I am already 110% against this administration. They are making this personal now. Let’s see them try and shut me down.

    #2. Yes, Bush was terrible and dictatorial in his own way. But I am so sick of people on either side justifying things like this by saying “But Bush did this. Therefore this is OK.” Stop it. We all have to call a spade a spade and come down hard on tyrannical, anti-Constitutional behavior, no matter who does it.

    3. To Joe above: What the Hell are you talking about?

  • I hope everyone is happy with the “CHANGE” they’re getting! Good Job America, I hope we all enjoy it when Marshal Law takes over too.

  • I was threatened yesterday on a blog to kill myself. I was told that I should have been an aborted baby. This was on a conservative forum. This was because I was asking why Paul switched his beliefs on the Civil Rights Act.

    I would love to be able to post my questions and views without having my life threatened by angry conservatives. And I would also fully support a fact checker on all these ridiculous political sites. Most people have no CLUE what they are saying or believing in.

  • EducationPrevails:
    Just why do you think they want to force you to DISCLOSE who your benefactors are?? So that you can just keep blogging as you were? How charmingly (dangerously) naive of you.

  • It is just a shame that things have come to this. Quite a disappointing post to read about. However, even more disappointing is how the Repubs just don’t seem interested in trying to help solve the country’s problems anymore. They just want to slam on the current adminstration. As evidenced by the responses here.

    I have been reading blogs from GOPers actually defending the oil spill and the rights of the oil companies. They say that the Feds should have done more — but yet for the last year, they have been complaining about the present administration exerting too much control. I am trying to figure out which way they want it … Now they are paying Sarah Palin’s daughter $30,000 for speaking appearances? My God – what next … maybe Rush will blame the oil spill on the Sierra Club or something … wait – he has already done that!! ….. I suppose hell is freezing over too.

  • There are just as many liberal blogs as there are conservative. I can assure you that if this Disclose Act did what is being claimed here, there would be just as huge a backlash from the left. I know most of you don’t have a high opinion of us, but surely you give us at least enough credit to know that we realize that one day Repubs will have control again and this could then be turned on us. But that’s not what this Act would do, and this is only manufactured outrage.


    If you were asking me what I meant about Rand Paul, he is actually in favor of repealing the part of civil rights legislation that prevents private businesses from discriminating based on race, sex, etc.

  • Why is this the only page referring to this. When i google search “FEC Regulate” “Blogs”, all the references are from 2005–the BUSH administration.
    Do we have to make shit up to dislike Obama? Count me out of that.

  • I may be wrong here, but didn’t the FTC already regulate bloggers, being that they must DISCLOSE in the article that they either received a gift for the blog post or got paid for it? I mean I’m already disclosing on my other blog RaceDriven that I received a free gift for doing a contest and/or that I was paid for the post.

    The point is if I’m correct, then this bill is a waste considering its already covered with the FTC. If it isn’t, its still a waste considering we have huge problems in this country with immigration, jobs, a junk health care bill, TARP, the economy, Wall Street, just for starters, I mean this president just like the last one need to stop wasting time and get to work for what we the American people elected them into office for.

  • For those who want to look for themselves:
    The House version is [H.R.5175.IH]
    The Senate version is [S.3295.IS]

    The Wall Street Journal has an article by past commissioners who served on the FEC which say this bill is unnecessary, duplicative, and burdensome

    The Sunlight Foundation has done a comparison of the House and Senate versions

  • In an analysis on Flopping Aces, a poster declares that

    “If H.R. 5175 passes, and Federal law supersedes state law, then the Internet will be included and any blogger who supports or opposes a candidate will have to file with the FEC. Another definition that comes into play here: Independent Expenditure:

    An expenditure that is made to support or oppose
    one or more clearly identified candidates without
    consultation or coordination with a candidate or
    agent of a candidate that the expenditure
    supports, or whose opponent’s nomination or
    election the expenditure opposes.

    So if a blogger – without coordination with any candidate or political committee – decides to post something favoring or opposing a candidate, he or she will be required to disclose his or her funding sources (Section 201).”

    see at

    This might make bloggers hesitant to advocate for anything — since advocacy
    will make them subject to federal reporting, financial disclosure, and who-knows-what-else.

  • Dear God, you people are being lied to. All ‘Net Neutrality’ does is reclassify the internet as a telecommunications platform. In other words, it would be regulated like the phone lines, television, and radio. Television is working out pretty well, isn’t it?

    I have personally read the bill and NOWHERE does it give the government power to delete bloggers’ sites or any other sites for that matter. What it DOES do is stop internet providers from throttling your your connection in favor of other websites or consumers. In other words, it would make the companies give you the internet you are paying for.

  • What happened to for the people and by the people… Looks like they are totally disregarding us.

  • Net Neutrality has nothing to do with what people write in blogs. It’s not a freedom of speech issue. All it does is make sure that internet access providers can’t discriminate against certain kinds of traffic.

    I highly doubt that Obama would try to pass a law that is so blatantly a violation of the first amendment, seeing as how he used to be a Constitutional law professor.

  • They would have to hire thousands of people to monitor blogs. It would be impossible to keep track.

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