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(From the diaries -- kos)

[for background, click here]

[if you're in a hurry and want to act first, then find out what all the fuss is about, go to this website and answer the questions, then come back]

Last week, Mike Krempasky of RedState.org and I attended a conference hosted by the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet regarding the current FEC rulemaking process on political activity on the Internet.

[Audio/video of the conference is available via this link, and if these issues matter to you, then spend a few hours listening to it while you work today.]

On Friday, I told you about the Center for Democracy & Technology's Eleven Principles which were discussed that day, and you should still look at that.

Today, I've got something I want you to do to help protect our freedoms online.

What struck both me and Mike coming out of this conference is how little some of the so-called "experts" seem to know about how we use the internet for politics.  Certain of the speakers were conjuring a world in which listservs were a big factor, where the technology wasn't there yet for audio/video to be transmitted effectively by campaigns, and where, if you'll FF to 1:27 in the video, you'll see my question regarding bloggers doing fundraiisng for candidates treated like some wild-assed hypothetical.

In short, we fear that the people most involved in doing the regulating -- including many of the FEC commissioners themselves -- may have no idea what the universe is that they're trying to put under their baliwick.  [And remember, unless Sen. Reid's bill passes, there will be regulation.]

Please understand: there are basically two schools of thought in this area -- there are those who represent either right-wing interests or party establishment interests who believe that campaign finance regulation generally is bad, and that therefore there shouldn't be regulation of the internet; and then there are liberal reform groups and people like Sen. Feingold who believe that campaign finance law can work, and that carefully-crafted regulations can cover the Internet without doing damage to our speech rights.  

I started off in the second camp, but I'm increasingly moving to the first, because I fear that clumsily-drafted regulations will destroy what we've all created.  For example:

  • is a group blog that discusses federal candidates now a political committee that needs to register with the FEC?
  • if a blogger accepts advertising, does that mean that everything she says about candidates who don't advertise now becomes an in-kind contribution that needs to be filed and disclosed?
  • can a blogger incorporate herself for liability purposes and still freely discuss candidates?  will she be forced to do so in an "evenhanded" fashion?
  • can bloggers/readers who work at corporations discuss politics online from work?
  • will we still be able to post anonymously or pseudonymously, or might websites be held liable for (a) posts by campaign staffers that don't disclose their identities or (b) posts by non-US citizens that try to raise money for US candidates?
  • and, for all of these examples, will only the bloggers and posters who can afford to hire attorneys feel free to keep doing what they're doing, becuase of the threat of subpoena and federal investigation?

The results could be catastrophic -- and, please note, this has very little to do with whether bloggers have to disclose whether they're being paid for content.  It's much broader that that.  This is where you come in.

One of the most important things you can do is let the regulators know how you use the internet for politics, so that they understand what they're getting involved in and how careful they need to be in not stifling these robust communities.  Here's how:

  • The easier way: visit the CDT website and fill out this form.  They'll use your answers to help them formulate their response, which will be a comprehensive take based on their eleven principles; or
  • The harder way:  email your comments directly the the FEC.  Be polite, and tell them who you are, where you live (you must provide a postal address for your comment to be read), and how you use the internet for politics, using the CDT questions as a guide.  Stress to them the vibrancy of these sites, how valuable they are to you, and the activities that you want to ensure remain free of onerous regulations.  And post here what you've sent them, to give others an example and inspiration.

Lawyers like me can propose regulations to them and argue to the Federal Election Commission about how the law ought to be applied.  But you've got the power -- and the right as citizens -- to explain to the FEC the importance of what's going on here, and why they need to only regulate where absolutely necessary.  We only have until June 3.

Please help, and if you have questions, please ask.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 16, 2005 at 11:56 AM PDT.

Poll

Will you do something to help?

63%48 votes
23%18 votes
1%1 votes
10%8 votes

| 76 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  thoughts, comments, recs, questions (4.00)
    I know this is a very busy week, with the nuclear option and other matters consuming us.  But the long-term implications of the proposed regulations are huge, and it's crucial that we do what we can to educate the FEC into getting it right.

    "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

    by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 08:35:19 AM PDT

    •  Thank you for (none)
      keeping us updated on this important topic.  It isn't as obviously exciting as Sen.Byrd pulling out his pocket-sized Constitution, but we (as a community) do need to stay involved and informed.
      •  I'm doing what I can (none)
        It's hard to make this sound simple.  Basically, you've got a regulatory regime that's based on notions of scarcity of bandwidth and high costs of entry in other media (tv, radio, print) that they're trying to mold around this space, where all speakers are more-or-less equal and an infinite number of sites can bloom.

        "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

        by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 09:16:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  preserving a democratic medium (none)
          This is precisely why I think no regulation at all is the best solution. All other media structurally favor wealthy elites. The internet provides the only relatively level playing field. It is absolutely crucial that we don't fuck this up. No regulation at all may not be the optimum solution, but it is the safest. I simply do not trust the government to get involved in a way that actually enhances rather than hinders the democratic nature of the internet. That's why I favor the Reid bill. Thanks for the link below. I intend to contact my Congressman, John Lewis, and urge him to support the corresponding House bill. Thanks for all your hard work on this most important of issues.
        •  my email to FEC (none)
          I urge you not to regulate political speech on the internet. Over the last three years I have come to rely substantially on the internet for news and political analysis. The internet contains an infinite diversity of information and opinion from every color of the political spectrum and every degree of credibility and quality from the ranting of crazy people to analysis and reporting that have proven to be more accurate than the mainstream broadcast media. I sort through all of this using my own intelligence and values. If a wealthy individual or corporation finances a web site to help or hurt a political candidate, I am smart enough to evaluate this for myself. There is never a shortage of contrary opinions and information readily available over the internet with which to weigh any issue. This contrasts with broadcast media. There are only three cable news outlets and three broadcast news programs, and these are usually focusing on the same trite stories such as the runaway bride. Political advertisements on television exist in a relative vacuum of relevant information with which to evaluate their content. FEC regulations are absolutely necessary for the wealth dominated medium of television. The same rationale simply doesn't apply to the internet.

          Please do not hinder free speech on the internet. It is the only democratic medium we have, providing a relatively level playing field to all voices regardless of wealth. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

          •  thanks. (none)
            I hope others follow in your path.  Just a reminder:

            "DATES: Comments must be received on or before June 3, 2005. The Commission will hold a hearing on the proposed rules on June 28-29, 2005 at 9:30 a.m. Anyone wishing to testify at the hearing must file written comments by the due date and must include a request to testify in the written comments.

            ADDRESSES: All comments must be in writing, must be addressed to Mr. Brad C. Deutsch, Assistant General Counsel, and must be submitted in either electronic, facsimile, or hard copy form.  Commenters are strongly encouraged to submit comments electronically to ensure timely receipt and consideration. Electronic comments must be sent to either internet@fec.gov or submitted through the Federal eRegulations Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Any commenters who submit electronic comments and wish to testify at the hearing on this rulemaking must also send a copy of their comments to internettestify@fec.gov. If the electronic comments include an attachment, the attachment must be in the Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) or Microsoft Word (.doc) format. Faxed comments must be sent to (202) 219-3923, with hard copy follow-up. Hard copy comments and hard copy follow-up of faxed comments must be sent to the Federal Election Commission, 999 E Street, NW., Washington, DC 20463. All comments must include the full name and postal service address of the commenter or they will not be considered. The Commission will post comments on its Web site after the comment period ends. The hearing will be held in the Commission's ninth floor meeting room, 999 E Street, NW., Washington, DC."

            "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

            by Adam B on Tue May 17, 2005 at 11:47:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Reid bill (none)
      You mentioned the Reid bill. Can you provide a link? What is the status of the bill? Is this something I should email my Senators about?
      •  the reid bill (none)
        It's S. 678, and it would exclude communications over the Internet from the legal definition of "public communications" -- i.e., that which gets regulated.

        People here have disagreed as to whether it's the best approach to the issue -- (a), whether it goes far enough in protecting speech rights, and (b) whether it opens too many avenues for coordinated speech which should be disfavored.  (I.e., a 527/PAC could totally coordinate with a campaign as to what its website should say, whereas it couldn't with its tv ads.)

        Its language has also been incorporated by Republicans into a 527 "reform" bill, about which I wrote here.

        "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

        by Adam B on Tue May 17, 2005 at 08:59:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I just finished the CDT Survey (4.00)
    And signed on to the principles. My own blogging has been overtaken by life-I barely keep up here at this point, but I'm going to be getting back to it soon, I hope.

    And this fight is one I'm in all the way on.

    Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.-Thomas Jefferson
    We are the resistance.

    by boadicea on Mon May 16, 2005 at 10:20:19 AM PDT

    •  There are a lot of us... (none)
      in that particular boat boadicea. :-)

      This fight is a freedom of speech issue to me, and goes to the very core of my democratic belief system.

      -- The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers; it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.

      by Ten Buddhas on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:08:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Press, not speech (none)
        Quibbling, but it's a freedom of the press issue.  
        What the corporate interests who back both R's & D's can't stand is that with the 'net everyone has a printing press.  That's why they're fighting this so hard and why the question of journalistic credentials has been a sidebar to lots of recent stories.  The safest position for individual freedom is to renounce journalistic credentials and let the consumer decide who has accurate, interesting and useful information.  

        Dig within. There lies the wellspring of all good. Ever dig and it will ever flow. --Marcus Aurelius

        by Mosquito Pilot on Mon May 16, 2005 at 01:00:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Me too (none)
      Finished the survey and signed on to the principles.

      Not that I'm a blogger, but I like my blogs!  Hope you wanted feedback from folks like me as well.

      •  oh, hell yes (none)
        Everyone should go to the CDT website, because each of us is affected.  This isn't just a call to action for people who own blogs.

        "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

        by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:22:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Valuation (none)
    Given that individual non-coordinated activity under $250 is already exempt from reporting requirements, how does one put a dollar value on blog activity? Bandwidth? Square inches of screenspace?

    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State. Or Yours.

    by ben masel on Mon May 16, 2005 at 11:07:49 AM PDT

    •  yup (none)
      If bloggers aren't granted the media exemption or some other blanket protection, these are the kinds of questions that need to be asked.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 11:20:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ASDF (none)
    How valid is the argument that the Internet is a public space, like a coffee house or a street croner?

    The Revolution will not be televised. It will be blogged.

    by librarianman on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:03:47 PM PDT

    •  not really (none)
      For two reasons:
      1.  People own websites.  The server on which this post sits is a real machine that someone pays for.
      2.  The regulations (theoretically) only cover money, not "pure speech".  That's the plan, anyway.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:05:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't get it... (none)
        In the above Coffee House example, surely that's a "real" building, engaged in commerce, with a real physical location too.  How is that different than a server sitting in an air conditioned room somewhere?

        -- The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers; it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.

        by Ten Buddhas on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:11:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  coffee houses (none)
          Aren't public spaces.  If you stood up in Starbucks and started giving people grief about the DDR, they could kick you out.

          "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

          by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:12:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  dKos is just like a bar (none)
            But, I've gone to lots of bars and had organized meetings where we discussed politics, union actives, candidates and all the same stuff we talk about here and I don't see them being held up as contributers.  And most bars have their own troll rating system that will ban unproductive beople very forcefully.

            I'm not sure, but I think that anything that is open to the public is a public space regardless of who opens the physical property.

      •  speech (none)
        "The regulations (theoretically) only cover money, not "pure speech".  That's the plan, anyway."

        Not so. The regulations, and current practice, is about speech, trying to make it illegal to put a sign in your window that says "vote for smith".
        In AO-1998-22, the FEC tried to tell Leo Smith he had to put a "paid for by" disclaimer on his web site. I had written them coments at the time saying that would be a bad idea, but they ignored me. Their theory was that his computer must have cost something, so his web page was an "expense."
        What the FEC is ignoring there, aside from Reno v ACLU, is that anonymous political speech is protected under supreme court decisions including Talley v California, McIntyre v Ohio, Watchtower v Stratton. Text and info at http://majors.blogspot.com.
        If they know who you are, you are at risk of being tracked down, maybe attacked, maybe fired, maybe relatives in the old country sent to slave labor camps. For the internet to work as a free speech medium, we need to keep up the fight for the right to anonymous speech. I have chosen to concentrate on political speech, although the internet indecency cases are where most of the victories have been so far.
        Whether the internet is a safe place for free speech is a bigger question than who gets elected.
        I am greatful that so many of you have chosen to get involved and speak out.
           

  •  Napster ruling (none)
    This could be headded toward the biggest court debacle since the government ruled against Napster, which essentially ushered in the collapse of speculative investment in the internet, turning it into just another venue to advertise shit, and scaring away innovators.

    I'll be emailing that's for sure.

  •  Death of the Free Press (none)
    The Neocon facist have effectively neutered the main stream press, they're now dismantling PBS, and of course the Blogs are the last bastion of the uncensored news.

    Of course they're going ot attack it and everyone should watch it closely and get active. They'll probably try to take it "behind closed doors" at some point so its up to the bloggers themselves to keep it very much in the spotlight. Vampires hate the light!

    •  actually (none)
      This is one of the nice things about American democracy -- administrative rulemaking like this takes place in public.  The FEC meets in public; proposed regulations are published; the public is then invited to respond and to offer themselves for public testimony before the agency.

      And, if they screw it up, we've got the courts.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:11:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  epiphany (none)
    I will listen to the audio later. A small correction however: We don't work today. Most EU countries celebrate Epiphany Monday today. Hence the paid holiday. It's just another example of religion and socialism working well together.
    •  Europe (none)
      You people could really screw this up for us.  Right now, under FEC regs, your ability to participate in US election-related activity is severely circumscribed.  One question unaddressed by the regs is whether blogs that talk about US politics (a) can accept advertising from foreigners and (b) can host comments/diaries by foreigners seeking to raise money for US candidates.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:15:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not that it matters... (none)
        ...because if someone's going to make monetary (and NOT strictly voluntary) contributions to a campaign or PAC, they'll have to include personal information that proves their citizenship. Of course, if a foreign national lied about their citizenship or provided false information to donate money, that person could rightly be charged with a number or crimes.

        All of which is to say that I don't think foreign citizens will make much difference in this internet question - they will continue to be regulated as they always have. The difference between "online public" and "actual public" works the same way here.

        Unless I'm getting something terribly wrong, but I think I understood that FEC guide pretty well. :)

        •  it doesn't make much difference (none)
          Except on the solicitation issue.  There's an FEC advisory opinion, for example, where a foreign artist was barred from donating artworks she had created to Howard Metzenbaum to auction in a campaign fundraiser.

          Which makes me wonder -- if someone just made a post trying to solicit funds for a candidate, would that cause a similar problem?

          (I'm a lawyer.  It's my job to come up with problems like this.)

          "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

          by Adam B on Tue May 17, 2005 at 07:47:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Pentacost Monday (none)
      Not Epiphany.  Epiphany (when the 3 wise men visited Jesus) is celebrated 12 days after Christmas.

      Pentacost is 50 days after Easter.

      Happy Whitsun or Phingst.

      •  Oh Jee, oh hark (none)
        Thanks, you are right and you prove my point. Our state socialism has led us to forget about the root significance of the Christian holidays. Pentecoste, Pingster, Pfingsten. Yeah, was that not the day when the disciples saw the light through the blessing of the Holy Spirit? Not a bad thing to happen.  
  •  I did the survey (none)
    and likened our blog to a park picnic.  If they are going to regulate political speech, then they will have to do it at all gatherings.  DKos is a gathering, a town square.

    When they asked why anonimity is important, I said because of an increasing number of threats made and carried out by right wing members.  Even congressmen threaten retribution these days.

  •  OK...I'm slow on the uptake here (none)
    I don't host a blog, so I don't know, technically, what all the issues are.  I participate and enjoy them and think they provide a valuable contribution to political discourse.  

    What I don't understand is the what and how of the proposed regulations.  I need more details-- broken down into non-technical basics.

    Someone please feel free to point me in the direction of a good diary, blog or website on this.

    Some thoughts--

    1. I dispair at every new regulation that makes anything more difficult.  Chances are, the regs will be ambiguous, hard to enforce, and hard to understand.  I keep coming back to the question of how they will be able to enforce regs.

    2. KOS appears to be an anomaly among blogs.  There are blogs within the blog as well as the discussion threads that run therein.  KOSSACKS would probably work twice as hard at following the regs as other, less complex blogs.

    3. How are they defining blogs?  There are countless personal websites.  Some have open dialogue, others selected, still others none.  Area all personal sites considered blogs?  How does Congress make the distinction?

    4. Is this all political communication or just fundraising?  Is it fundraising for specific candidates?  How do they define fundraising?  Will they count only explicit requests to contribute dollars?  Direct links to fund raising websites?  Advert. of fundraising events?  How about mentioning something in passing?
    •  two places to go (none)
      my diary and site, among others.  Bottom line: a court told the FEC they couldn't leave the internet alone.  So now they're working on something.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:37:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Incorporation (none)
    I don't see this as a key issue, since web hosts are not generally liable for material posted as comments by others, unless furnished a takedown notice.

     

    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State. Or Yours.

    by ben masel on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:32:12 PM PDT

    •  It's an issue (none)
      Because under campaign finance law, corporations (generally) aren't allowed to spend a dime on political activity unless they're legitimate members of the media.

      I understand you're arguing the opposite, really, that because of the exemption from libel liability there's no need to incorporate, but for a variety of reasons, there still is.  Taxes, for one thing, are much easier if you're an S-corp.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:39:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rights v Priveleges (none)
        Those advantages are priveleges, rightly or wrongly given to corporations. There's no 1st Amendment issue with reqiiring those who wish to be political players from enjoying special priveleges.

        I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State. Or Yours.

        by ben masel on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:49:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  hmm. (none)
          I almost wonder if the media exemption is constitutionally compelled from the First Amendment freedom of the press.

          "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

          by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:52:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. (none)
            Hence the admittedly flimsy divide between editorial content and advertising.

            I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State. Or Yours.

            by ben masel on Mon May 16, 2005 at 12:57:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  thought (none)
              Part of what's driving the pro-regulatory bent, certainly, is a notion that bloggers are more susceptible to be swayed by advertising revenue (and pay-for-content) in determining what they say than is, say, the Washington Post.

              Whether or not it's true, I don't quite see how it's the FEC's business.

              "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

              by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 01:02:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (none)
        S-Corp isn't the way to go for tax reasons necessarily  - you can get many of the same advantages in other ways.  But there are legitimacy issues and other good reasons to incorporate. For one thing, it makes it easier to buy health insurance in this current universe of employer-run healthcare.
  •  Comments after quick read through (none)
    Thanks to all who pointed me toward good info.  After a quick read, I ask

    WHY IS THIS PROPOSED REGULATION NECESSARY?

    1. So someone advertises fundraising on Kos.  You already know they are doing it because the party taking out the ad has to disclose how much they pay in their financial reports to the FEC.

    2. So someone directly solicits contributions in a post.  You will know who contributes more than $250 (?) because they have to disclose that to the campaign.

    3. Say Kossacks got all cheeky and raised funds for an attack ad.  They would have to create some sort of section 523 (?) organization (Swift Typists for Truth) in order to have their ad run on the public airwaves.

    So 'splain to me why ADDITIONAL REGULATIONS ARE NEEDED on top of what we already have.  How are bloggers falling through the cracks?
    •  response (none)
      I'm going to swing you back two months to this post of mine, which excerpted Judge Kollar-Kotelly's opinion on why the FEC had to do something to fulfill the intent of McCain-Feingold.

      The initial intent, anyway, was to close a loophole that otherwise allows parties and PACs to spend unlimited, coordinated funds on behalf of candidates on the Internet when they can't in other media.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Mon May 16, 2005 at 01:00:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Put the action info at the top (none)
    Suggest you put the action info above the fold - so it's easier for us to figure out what to do. THEN we can take our time to learn exactly why the action is requested.

    Thanks for letting us know about this.

  •  Done (none)
    thanks for the heads up about the questionair,e and also more importantly for all the work you are doingo n this.

    Let the Democratic Reformation Begin

    by Pounder on Mon May 16, 2005 at 04:46:19 PM PDT

  •  Lawsuit over web content (none)
    Don't know if this helps but..

    BBC NEWS | Technology | Yahoo sued over anonymous abuse

    The California-based company has not commented
    A California lawyer has filed a potential class action lawsuit against the internet search company Yahoo.

    Stephen Galton says he was subject to a "barrage of harassing, defamatory and abusive messages" from anonymous users on a Yahoo message board.

    Mr Galton, who wants other users to join in the suit, has accused Yahoo of sheltering users who harass people in cyberspace.

    The California-based company declined to comment.

    In many countries net firms are granted so-called "common carrier" or "immunity from suit" status that removes their legal responsibility for what their users do online.

    However, this legal protection usually evaporates if a company is put on notice about websites or messages that infringe laws but does nothing about them.

    We're back in the U.S.S.R.
    (You don't know how lucky you are boy
    Back in the U.S.S.R!)

    by lawnorder on Mon May 16, 2005 at 06:00:58 PM PDT

  •  Why do we need anonymity: (none)
    My answer to the question may interest you acbonin. I have 2 documented cases where people were ciber stalked on political forums, when they gave out personal info:

    My answer to Question 6:

    Yes. We are all anonymous in Yahoo discussion boards and some other political forums.

    The anonymity is important to protect participants from cyber stalkers. The Internet is a dangerous place and I have seen several people get harassed or stalked when they put too much personal information. I have two documented cases:

    1. beento5continents, a Kerry supporter, married  female soldier living n DC who had the foolish idea of posting her picture and details from her personal life online. A couple of months later her pic was  plastered all over the net in porn sites, along with any personal info she divulged

    2. wp_hamilton, a Bush supporter, got harassed and stalked for 2 years until he moved to another city. WP believes he got his stalker on an online message board.

    beento5continents the Yahoo poster who got her personal photo posted to pornographic Web sites and got incessantly harassed by other posters got targeted just because of her political opinions, by those who opposed her point of view. Unfortunately Yahoo took that message board offline recently, but I'm sure we would be able to get it from their backups or the web memory vault...

    There are still some examples of how beento5continents was harassed: Her personal photo is still there in Yahoo, being posted by trolls as theirs..  http://us.f2.yahoofs.com/users/4177fbe2ze6976498/beento5continent04/__sr_/4e56.jpg?pfRjUiCB5DDe_fOS

    I know it is her picture because she said so on the board and you can see a "mirror" of the message here: http://texasturkey.us/Boards/BLapiraqbeento5_1282525_1242522.html

    Also, some trolls that were harassing her are still at yahoo member directory. They used a favorite harassment tactics: Make multiple ID's of the troll you hate (From http://www.yahootrolls.com/ ,see the LATEST TRENDS)

    Yahoo Member directory for any beento5 user name: http://members.yahoo.com/interests?.oc=t&.sb=0&.id=beento5&.fn=&.ln=&.em=&.k w=&.g=0&.ar=0&.st=0&.lo=)
    A few examples:
         beento5continentsdaughter
         beento5continentshusband
         beento5continentsz
         beento5crackdealers
         beento5crackpipes
        beento5cunntinentss
     beento5doctorsstillgottheclap

    We're back in the U.S.S.R.
    (You don't know how lucky you are boy
    Back in the U.S.S.R!)

    by lawnorder on Mon May 16, 2005 at 07:45:42 PM PDT

  •  Um, (none)
    I actually did both, but the poll didn't allow that answer.  And, in case anyone's interested, here's my e-mail:

    I am a "new" activist who cares deeply about the politics in this country.  Unfortunately, I live in an area without access to fair and unbiased news, so I rely on the Internet to find out what is going on in the world as well as to connect with like-minded individuals.  The Internet becomes a large living room where we can have spirited discussions as well as provide information to others who don't have access to the source.  The blogs and discussion forums that I turn to for information are vibrant, alive, and immediate.  I find out things hours, if not days, before I ever hear about them (if at all) on my limited options via radio, tv, or print.

    If someone decided that the political discussions that have been going on in these "communities" is speech that must be regulated, I am puzzled.  I don't understand how this "speech", even though it is typed, is any different than that around the water cooler.  Just because the parties in conversation are not face-to-face does not make it any less of a conversation.  I strongly believe that the Internet is becoming a wonderful tool to unite people and is creating communities.  The political discussions are important and should not be shut down.  I realize that these sites must raise money to run them (computers and servers and disk space and bandwidth are not free), but that should not disallow political speech, nor endorsements.

    Sincerely,

    •  Agreed... (none)
      ...and I understand exactly where you're coming from.

      I'll be sending the following paragraphs along in an e-mail to the FEC...I've already answered the questions.

      ------

      Were it not for the Internet (and one weekly local newspaper), I would have very little contact with "the other side" of the political spectrum. The Internet provides me with a link and a conversational outlet to people who share my views -  as well as those who do not.

      The Internet is perhaps the least-biased, most open source that I have ever come across for expressing opinion or getting people together for a common cause. Witness beautiful, non-political internet phenomena like Grid.org, for example - using the power of thousands of linked computers to advance medical research.

      The Internet is amazing in its ability to equalize people - unless an individual wishes to express it, there is no need for anyone to provide their racial, gender, sexual or political information. It means that the average user of a forum (on any subject, never mind political) has to take the view that anyone could be reading your words. It's refreshing. It's also rather instructive in good debate technique, since you know that someone will almost always be able to rebut any opinion.

      I can think of nothing more terrifying than the loss of such an open outlet of freedom as the Internet, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that it remains just as powerful a tool in future.

      ------

      I think it should be fairly obvious where I stand on this.

    •  it wasn't an option (none)
      because I'm a pessimist about seeing people translate promises of action into action.  Thanks to both of you for making this effort, and hopefully, it'll encourage others to do the same.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Tue May 17, 2005 at 07:48:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Quick question... (none)
    ...when I write the e-mail, is it required to compose it with the title all fused together ("ThisIsHowIUseTheInternet")?

    I'd rather not, but if I must...

    •  not at all required (none)
      Use any title you want.  I'm just crappy with HTML, so I don't know how to put spaces into subject headings like that.

      "Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up/Our father's father's father tried/Erased the parts he didn't like" - R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

      by Adam B on Wed May 18, 2005 at 09:25:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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