Saturday, July 9, 2005

Corporate blogging & politics

This is an issue that's been rumbling around for awhile - Should bloggers be considered under campaign finance regulations? Should bloggers be regulated?

Hmmm...

With 20 million or more blogs out there it'd be hard to say anything concrete about the field, because the field is so diverse. For example, many blogs are there just to allow communication between family members, and have zero political content. Others deal with various other topics. Clearly most of the bloggers ought not be regulated because what they're doing is unrelated to the conduct of the political system.

Just as clearly there are many politically-oriented bloggers, some of whom are very popular. Should they be regulated?

Beware of the "Halli-bloggers"! If bloggers get the same press freedoms as traditional media, what will prevent corporations like Halliburton from using blogs to pour unregulated money into politics? (By Zachary Roth, July 9, 2005, salon.com)

The Federal Election Commission has been considering this question for awhile, and their deliberations are leading to the above questionable scenario. What if some big corporation (e.g. Halliburton) causes a blog site to be created, and the blog site is given a mission to be Halliburtons mouthpiece. This could be done secretly in a way that makes the blog site appear to be legitimate. But, it would be Halliburton's operation and activisming on whatever cause Halliburon wants to push (e.g. launch another war somewhere, so that Halliburton would get more contracts for reconstruction).

Let me suggest that there are probably already laws which define what a political activist is, and the occasions under which political activists should be regulated. It's merely a matter of extending those laws to cover bloggers.

I say this because there's nothing special about bloggers. All they do is write, and their writing platform exists on a web site. Big deal.

If a political-activist who happens to be a blogger is truly independant, great. If that person is being funded by so-and-so then that should be disclosed.

That might not be enough, however. For example it's relatively easy to put advertising and whatnot on a blog site, and thereby earn an income that way. Done well enough the blogger running the site could be independantly supported, yet they could also be in cahoots with some corporate place, and they wouldn't have to disclose anything.

It's clear though that in politics and political activism that a lot of skulduggery goes on, and it's best for there to be disclosure of support and other connections.