The Beginning of Internet Regulation

John Ostrowski over at wrote an opinion piece on blogging yesterday that’s mildly disturbing.

The Internet is the newest and most free medium of communication, which can be used to check both government and the mainstream media. This means, of course, that the government is already looking to regulate it. If certain legislators have their way, the end of free blogging on the Internet will come sooner rather than later.

Basically, the beginning of the end is coming not with a bang but a whimper.

Political bloggers have thus far dodged the regulatory bullet. The McCain-Feingold Bill, which drastically curtailed freedom of speech by imposing limits on soft money contribution, does not apply to Internet speech””for the moment. The FEC sought to codify that “public communications” (which can be regulated under McCain-Feingold) did not include the Internet, but that addition was struck down by a District Court. In March of this year, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) tried to rectify this problem by proposing the “Online Freedom of Speech Act,” which would have excluded online content from “public communications.”

In response to this move, an alternative anti-free speech bill was proposed that would place under regulation those sites whose expenditures totaled more than $10,000 annually. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) and Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), was laughably titled “Internet Free Speech Protection Act.” This is a pure example of Orwellian double-speak, as the purpose of the bill is certainly not the protection of free speech on the Internet. This fact didn’t stop Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a supporter of the Allen bill, from issuing a press release condemning Hensarling’s bill as the one being “deceptive.”

Two different bills floated around the House back in March, one seeking to strengthen the protections for the internet and another seeking to regulate it. Well, in a compromise, the FCC is now regulating political ads online. It’s not much, but they have their foot in the door and we’re going to have to put up a vigorous defense to kick that foot back on out.

We could start by making sure that this cumrag of a Representative, Charlie Bass, doesn’t see the inside of the Beltway ever again. Free Staters, kindly introduce that man to the business end of a ballot box if you will.

Stuart Richards

Stuart Richards is a 26-year-old land surveyor based out of Portland, OR. He is a left-leaning geolibertarian and (theologically) liberal Christian, and has been blogging on and other libertarian sites since 2004.

  1. They can have my keyboard when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. Along with my gun.

  2. Yes, Charlie Bass needs to be booted. Lots of people are working on it. But of course, we could always use more help. Consider signing the First1000 pledge and getting your butt here to New Hampshire to help. The more the merrier, and someone needs to take the first step.

    Speaking of which, who will be at PorcFest? (which starts on Friday) See you there.

  3. That would make it kinda hard to type”¦

    Comment by Stuart Richards ”” 2006-06-21 @ 5:55 am
    Hey this is the 21st Century, use voice recognition software. ;-)

    Seriously though, I have taken the Patterico Pledge and have it posted on my website.
    If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

  4. Bass is a sick and twisted man.

    Luckily, I get to use my vote to GET HIM THE HELL OUT OF OFFICE.

    And I promptly will, as a proud resident of NH congressional district 2, vote against him this fall.

  5. Hensarling is okay on some issues, but actually said in Congress that his family in Dallas is safer because Bush invaded and occupied Iraq, and continues the occupation long after Hussein was captured.

  6. Another front in the war on the Internet: the FCC is going to make internet and wireless phone companies pay into the Federal Universal Service Fund, to subsidize rural telephone service.

    The not-so-funny thing is, without the stupid USF, wireless services in the US would have developed a lot sooner, since it is more economical than running copper wires out to the Clampetts in the boondocks.

  7. Yeah, I disagree with his position on the Iraq War.

    Of course, some libertarians are pro-war so eh. It’s not an automatic disqualifier on liberty.