Roger L. Simon

Frist defends the Internet

Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist – who is often a bit much of a social conservative for my taste – has shown his freedom-loving side by co-sponsoring the Online Freedom of Speech Act as an amendment to the lobbying reform bill. Unfortunately, though the amendment is filed, there is no guarantee that Frist will be able to “call up” (bring to the floor for immediate consideration) the amendment (co-sponsor: Senator Coburn) and get a vote on it. But this is hugely important since a threat to Internet freedom is coming not just from the Chinese and the United Nations, but from our own federal judiciary. When Congress passed campaign finance reform in 2002, the legislation did not identify the Internet as a target of regulation, and rightly so. But a federal judge has ruled that the FEC’s previous broad exemption of the Internet was impermissible, absent clear direction from Congress. More here. Also, it would be interesting to know where this campaign finance reformer stands on the issue.