The Associated Press reports that California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is considering “how to regulate new forms of political activity such as appeals on a voter’s Facebook page or in a text message.”
Not whether to regulate these new forms of political speech, but how.
The recommendations apparently include “requiring tweets and texts to link to a website that includes . . . full disclosures, although some people feel the disclosure should be in the text itself no matter how brief . . . .”
To paraphrase Chief Justice John Roberts, this is why we don’t leave our free speech rights in the hands of FPPC bureaucrats. To bureaucrats like those at the FPPC, the Federal Election Commission or their analogues, there seems to be no need to show any evidence that Twitter, Facebook or text messages actually pose any threat to the public. It is enough that they these new forms of low-cost media aren’t currently regulated, but could be. Their primary concern, apparently, is that the regulation of political speech be as comprehensive as possible.
Here’s an alternative recommendation for the FPPC: Leave the Internet alone. What you will undoubtedly find is that California voters—and, indeed, Americans generally—don’t need you to protect them from political speech. To the contrary, the First Amendment reflects a profound commitment to the idea that you are the very last people we should trust to control the content of our political debate.