We The Bloggers….

[Cross Posted to the Bloglines blog and the Ask Jeeves blog]:

Blogs have given individuals of any and every background the ability to freely speak their minds and share information with anyone who chooses to read it, at any time they wish to do so. Bloglines was created for people as a window to access this world of dynamic content and a way to participate in its creation. We believe blogs have helped enable an open exchange of information that has never before been possible. As some of you may have heard, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is reviewing its regulations concerning political speech on the Internet, including blog activity. Bloglines is committed to the continuation of open exchanges of information and opinions throughout the blogosphere and the Internet in general. Today, the Committee on House Administration is having a hearing on this issue. In the spirit of these beliefs, I have provided the Committee with the following statement. We encourage you to express your opinion on this matter in any forum you choose.
-Mark Fletcher and the Bloglines team

Statement by Mark Fletcher
Founder, Vice President and General Manager of Bloglines
Concerning
Regulation of Political Speech on the Internet
Before the
Committee on House Administration
U.S. House of Representatives
September 22, 2005

Chairman Ney and Members of the Committee:

     On behalf of Bloglines and our users, I am pleased to provide the following statement concerning regulation of political speech on the Internet. Bloglines, founded in 2003, is a free online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs and rich web content. The company is a property of Ask Jeeves, Inc., a wholly-owned business of IAC/InterActiveCorp, and is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

     We believe its critical for us to speak out on behalf of individual bloggers who, while empowered by the Internet, have a limited capacity to carry messages to Congress. We commend you and the Committee for convening this hearing and focusing needed attention on this issue.

     We urge Congress and the FEC to ensure that the Internet, particularly blog activity, remains free from campaign finance regulation. While regulation of campaign financing plays an important role in maintaining public confidence in our political system, we believe the significant public policy interests in encouraging the Internet as a forum for free or low-cost speech and open information exchange should stand paramount.

     Linking to campaign websites, quoting from or republishing campaign materials and even providing a link for donations to a candidate, if done without compensation, should not result in a blog being deemed to have made a contribution to a campaign or trigger reporting requirements.

     Blogs permit the expression of and access to a diversity of political opinions and other information on a scale never before seen. This speech must remain free and not be discouraged by burdensome regulation. As such, it should be explicit that the activities of bloggers are covered by the press exemption of Sections 100.73 and 100.132.

     Should the FEC fail to provide this critical protection to Internet activity, or if courts determine the Commission lacks statutory authority, we urge Congress to promptly move legislation to achieve the goal.
Thank you for this opportunity to share our comments on this important issue.

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