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

Ney and Members of the Committee:

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.   

believe it’s 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Please repeat after me:

Amendment I –
Religion, Speech, Assembly, and Politics

shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or
the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances.


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