In 2002, the Federal Election Commission voted 4-2 to exempt the Internet from the “Campaign Finance Reform Act” – better known as the “McCain-Feingold law.”

In 2004, a federal judge overturned that FEC exemption, and with it dug up a shot at a source of revenue the government’s been wringing their hands over since Al Gore invented it– the Internet. Outcry from bloggers, free-speech advocates and some politicians, slowed the federal steamroller, but it was still in gear with the motor running. For now, the motor’s been turned off. This from the A.P.:

The Federal Election Commission decided Monday that the nation’s new campaign finance law will not apply to most political activity on the Internet.In a 6-0 vote, the commission decided to regulate only paid political ads placed on another person’s Web site.

The decision means that bloggers and online publications will not be covered by provisions of the new election law. Internet bloggers and individuals will therefore be able to use the Internet to attack or support federal candidates without running afoul of campaign spending and contribution limits.

Why not regulate the internet? Well, it would be politically unpopular to say the least. Also, nobody has figured out an effective way to do so– not even close. Even if somebody figured out an ineffective way to regulate the ‘net and collect money from it, they’d do so. Come on, it’s the government. If it can be regulated, even in a half-assed idiotic fashion, a way will be found. Just not yet.

Once the regulation of direct political advertising on the Internet has some of the kinks worked out, they’ll come full bore for the rest of it.

Give it time. Some members of Congress are just figuring out how to log on to their Commodore 64′s. Once they do, watch out.

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