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News Editor

Bloggers have free-speech rights

Mar 28, 20062 mins
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The Federal Election Commission yesterday by a vote of 6-0 declared that the First Amendment does indeed apply to bloggers who write about politics.

They didn’t actually phrase it that way — because that would have been silly — but that’s what they did. And the reason they did it was because a combination of political opportunists and Internet worrywarts had conspired to create undue concern that the voices of bloggers would be silenced by enforcement of campaign finance law.

That prospect was never anything but trumped-up hysteria.

From today’s Washington Post: “The rules ‘totally exempt individuals who engage in political activity on the Internet from the restrictions of the campaign finance laws. The exemption for individual Internet activity in the final rules is categorical and unqualified,’ said FEC Chairman Michael E. Toner. The regulation ‘protects Internet activities by individuals in all forms, including e-mailing, linking, blogging, or hosting a Web site,’ he said.”

Back in November there was much gnashing of teeth in some corners over the possibility that things would turn out differently for online political speech. In fact, an ill-advised piece of legislation called the Online Freedom of Speech Act came uncomfortably close to becoming law amid all the hoopla.

At the time I wrote this ‘Net Buzz column explaining why the Online Freedom of Speech Act really wasn’t about freedom of speech. … Yesterday’s FEC action merely confirmed that it wasn’t.

News Editor

In addition to my editing duties, I have written Buzzblog since January, 2006 and wrote the 'Net Buzz column in Network World's dearly departed print edition for 13 years. Feel free to e-mail me at