When the FCC announced this year that they would be regulating the internet as a utility, many feared the worst. This would be the beginning of the end of the free speech haven that had given voice to millions of Americans. But while there is still plenty of time for those fears to develop, another arm of the Obama administration may beat them to the punch.
Ann Ravel, the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, made comments this week demonstrating how eager the FEC is to start regulating online political speech. Ravel, speaking at a conference, was asked her thoughts on the government sticking its nose into Google, Facebook, and other websites. And according to her, that would be just fine. She told attendees that it would fall under the “purview” of the FEC to regulate fundraising and political donations that took place online.
This isn’t the first time the FEC has proposed cracking down on the internet. Not long ago, Democrats in the organization wanted to delve into the possibility of enacting regulations. Their efforts were stopped by an intense backlash of opposition from conservatives who feared it would mean the end of political free speech online. But like a nasty virus, this is one proposition that refuses to go away.
“It would be under the purview of the FEC to look at some of the issues that arise in new media and the impact of new media, in particular with respect to disclosure and ensuring that there is no corporate contributions, for example excessive contributions or contributions to a particular candidates for example,” Ravel said at the conference.
Anyone tempted to give Ravel and the FEC the benefit of the doubt should save their optimism for another day. Democrats have decided that campaign reform is a banner issue for them, and if they can use it to crack down on conservative media, all the better. Obama himself has blamed right-wing websites and radio shows for dividing the country, so it’s no secret where he stands. And if he is succeeded by Hillary Clinton, things could go from bad to worse.
Slowly but surely, this administration is taking back the power. Democrats see the danger of Breitbart, the Drudge Report, and conservative outlets like this one. They see the danger of letting likeminded folks get together and discuss the issues facing our country. And if there is even the slightest chance for them to take it away, they are going to jump on it with everything they have.