The Internet service providers (ISP), are there to let us get onto the Web. Soon they might start keeping us off the Internet if the US government imposes new laws and regulations. There were hearings held in The US Congress over this issue. It is not a secret for anyone that as the Internet looms larger in American politics, US Congress faces a tough debate over how to balance election campaign finance restrictions and the free speech rights of web sites and internet bloggers.
US election campaign finance reform had been debated for years without any major changes to laws. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act however was passed in 2002. It banned national political party committees from accepting or spending “soft money” contributions. The decision was challenged in McConnell v. FEC in 2003.
“Hard” and “Soft” Money
Campaign money in the United States election system comes in two forms: “hard money” and “soft money”. “Hard money” refers to donations made directly to political candidates. These must be declared with the name of the donor, which becomes public knowledge, and are limited by legislation. “Soft money” are money that are not made directly to a candidate’s campaign. Soft money refers to contributions given, at least nominally, to a political party for “party building” activities rather than for the direct support of particular candidates and campaigns.
Hoping to influence a Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule-making House leaders promoted, March this year, a bill to exclude the Internet from restrictions on public communications under campaign law. Critics however hinted the real goal is to knock a hole in the 2002 ban against using “soft money” contributions from corporations and labor unions for political advertising.
The Wall Street Journal reported that conservative Redstate and liberal Daily Kos political blogs joined forces, saying the FEC must “tread lightly” for fear that new campaign reporting rules will “chill free-spirited discourse online”.
Proponents say money can not dominate the market as it might with broadcasts for a single candidate or point of view. Opponents argue that dot-com political ads are potential force, and a blanket exemption for paid content on blogs would invite abuse as well as efforts to unravel campaign-finance limits.
This debate is about big ideas and both sides say they receive bipartisan support. A debate in November 2005 showed a narrow House majority of 225 members supported exempting Internet communications.
Is Network Neutrality an answer of apprehensions about web’s role in politics? A whole virtual world emerged only a decade since the commercialization of the Internet began. The number of users, the speed of internet connections and the variety of things everyone can do online created web culture. This process has been accomplished with light regulatory and in some countries even out of any regulations. That means officials have not been involved in decision makeing process over how to develop the Net. There were an important “exception to the rule” – the pornography and gambling. Those have been put under regulations over the Internet.
Having a whole industry out of regulations has produced some results. Web surfers can make cheap or free phone calls, legally download music, movies and software. They can also watch a network television shows online. Some of the internet business ideas succeeded, others failed. Many of them however would never have been even tested if a regulatory bodies such as national goverments or the U.S. Federal Communications had to say “Yes” first!
Do We Need To Regulate What Isn’t Broken
Becoming a part of political agenda is a worst thing that may happen to Internet. The web improved a lot out of government control and probably is a better ideia to keep it less regulated. Otherwise we will step back from the idea of open market! The good news is that things like “open access networks” and “free trade” are both conservative an liberal values and they can not be put on partisan political debate! It is better to keep the web clean out of political debate instead of putting restrictions because of the election and political agenda.
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