Over the past 20 years the federal government has placed varying amounts of scrutiny on political speech online. When the Federal Election Commission adopted a 2006 regulation that protected the right of people and groups to disseminate political commentary online free from regulation, the Internet rejoiced — but that freedom did not last long.
In recent years political speech on digital media has again come under increasing scrutiny from regulators in Washington. This is particularly true of the FEC — which has tried to expand disclosure laws and apply campaign finance laws to unpaid political accounts on Twitter — and the FCC — which ruled last year that Internet service providers do not have a right to free speech.
But, this move toward tighter regulation has not been without its dissenters. In February of last year, FEC commissioner Lee Goodman and FCC commissioner Ajit Pai co-authored a Politico op-ed arguing that “without government regulation, political speech and civic engagement have flourished on the Internet, and ordinary citizens have had the same freedom and ability to disseminate their political opinions to a wide public audience as large media corporations.”
Is our digital speech under serious attack? What is the current status of free speech online, and what is it likely to look like under the next administration? How might new regulations impact political organizing online?
Join Goodman, Pai, Washington Examiner watchdog reporter Rudy Takala, and Cato’s senior digital outreach manager Kat Murti for a timely discussion of the meaning of free speech and political opinion in an increasingly digitized world.