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13 October 2004

Big Brother?

FEC May Regulate Web Political Activity

WASHINGTON (AP) - With political fund raising, campaign advertising and organizing taking place in full swing over the Internet, it may just be a matter of time before the Federal Election Commission joins the action. Well, that time may be now.

A recent federal court ruling says the FEC must extend some of the nation's new campaign finance and spending limits to political activity on the Internet. Long reluctant to step into online political activity, the agency is considering whether to appeal. But vice chairwoman Ellen Weintraub said the Internet may prove to be an unavoidable area for the six-member commission, regardless of what happens with the ruling.

"I don't think anybody here wants to impede the free flow of information over the Internet," Weintraub said. "The question then is, where do you draw the line?"

This election season has been a groundbreaking one online, as interest groups, campaigns and political parties use Web sites and e-mail to advertise, organize volunteers, reach out to donors and collect information about voters. Former Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean made the most pronounced splash online when he stunned his rivals by raking in tens of millions of dollars through Web-a-thons, a far cheaper fund-raising method than traditional dinners and cocktail parties. And Internet message boards, known as blogs, have become as common a place for people to air their political views as talk shows and newspaper editorial pages


"The question then is, where do you draw the line?" That is my question Too!

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