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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 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.

     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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Trond Wathne Tveiten

Trond Wathne Tveiten

37, Skien

Opprinnlig fra Skien, men er nå bosatt i Bergen. Har vært aktiv i venstre og unge venstre i mange år. Har hatt flere verv både på lokal og nasjonalt nivå. Er ute etter å forandre verden til det bedre hvis det lar seg gjøre.

Trond Wathne Tveiten

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