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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Save Sam Colt’s Internet

It has been said that the Internet, and specifically blogs, are to politics what Sam Colt’s Peacemaker was to the Wild West; an equalizer. That sentiment has apparently been taken to heart by the US Federal Election Commission because, like today’s gun prohibitionists, the FEC wants to take away your individual power and concentrate it in the hands of a chosen few.

A good background description of the bizarre reasons behind this power play can be found here, but basically it is an extension of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, a.k.a. the Incumbent Protection Act. Senators McCain and Feingold, authors of the Reform Act, claim this is not true. Do not be fooled. The FEC is under a Court Order to bring the Internet under Campaign control and MUST COMPLY. It will be done by mid-summer. Failure to abide by the FEC rules will carry some stiff penalties, the mere threat of which will be enough to keep most blogs out of the political arena.

There is, however, some hope. The Internet community is aware of what is going on, and a powerful group called Downsize DC has gotten involved in the fray. They have begun a strong grassroots effort and there is a bill pending in both houses of Congress now that would exempt the Net from the BCRA laws. The Online Freedom of Speech Act is only one line long and already has bipartisan support, albeit at a low level. If you are a US citizen, you can urge your representatives to sponsor the bill by using Downsize DC’s electronic lobbying tool. It only takes a couple minutes and, best of all, it is free – the way internet speech should be.

9 comments to Save Sam Colt’s Internet

  • I hereby formally challenge the FEC to:

    Bring. It. On.

    As soon as we get into a time period when campaigning is forbidden under McCain-Feingold, I resolve to post something on Samizdata that is unquestionably a violation of that putrid, misbegotten pile of steaming legislation.

    If the FEC is looking for a test case, all they have to do is kick back, grab another donut, and watch this space. You can have it all, jackboot-boy – an American citizen, hiding behind a pseudonym, intentionally violating your punkass law, on a foreign server. You’re probably get a woody just thinking about it. I promise to be abrasive and obnoxious in front of the jury, too.

    If any FEC flunkies would care to leave a comment letting me know exactly when the M-F prohibitions will re-activate for the next campaign season, I would be much obliged.

  • Dale Amon

    And as I said publicly some time ago, I will publically give the FEC the finger.

    I have been thinking about us running a negative campaign to unseat McCain and Feingold. Anyone got any good dirt on them that we can save until just before the election?

  • John

    For anyone interested, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee (Link)will be holding a hearing on the Senate version May 3.

  • john

    EEEEK! I’m tired and brain dead, sorry for the erroneous post

  • Jake

    I promise I will come visit all of you in jail and I will bring you a cake.

  • Pete_London

    What happened to the First Amendment?

  • Pete, the First Amendment became an irritation to our anointed masters, so they have dealt with it appropriately.

  • The principle behind this bill is wrong.

    As I always try to convince people; if the principle is wrong, it does not matter how little the amount is. If you’re allergic to penicillin, you don’t want a dose that ‘probably won’t kill you’, you don’t want a dose of it at all.

  • Nicky

    Who can’t but agree that this is a very BAD idea? However ……. just what impact has the web really had on British politics? Certainly I find it easier to agree with the Social Affairs Unit’s scepticism, for example, than some of the stuff I’ve read here on Samizdata. Maybe it should, but the web hasn’t changed anything political here in the UK yet, has it? I’d sincerely like to know, not least as I have a thesis to finish 😉