News Releases, Media Advisories

FEC Seal Linking to FEC.GOV

For Immediate Release
October 3, 2001

Contact:

Ron Harris
Ian Stirton
Kelly Huff

 

FEC SEEKING COMMENT ON PROPOSED RULEMAKING
CONCERNING USE OF INTERNET IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the use of the Internet in federal elections and is seeking public comment for the next 60 days.

            The NPRM stems from a previous Notice of Inquiry (November 5, 1999) in which the Commission sought comments on a variety of issues related to campaign activity conducted on the Internet.  That Notice garnered some 1,300 comments from the public and resulted in the present proposed rulemaking, which focuses on three areas:

            1.   To clarify the application of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) to campaign-related Internet activity by individuals, the Commission is proposing to add a new section (117.1) to the regulations, stipulating that no contribution or expenditure results where an individual, without receiving compensation, uses computer equipment, software, Internet services or Internet domain name(s) that he or she personally owns to engage in Internet activity for the purpose of influencing any election to federal office.  

            2.  Sec. 441b of the FECA prohibits corporations and labor organizations from making contributions or expenditures in connection with federal elections, thus the FECA generally prohibits these entities from using web sites that are available to the general public to assist or advocate on behalf of any federal candidate.  The NPRM proposes to add provisions (117.2) to the Act that would address the placement of hyperlinks on corporate and labor organization web sites, stipulating conditions and explaining limitations on expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office.

            3.  Proposed section 117.3 of the regulations addresses the issue of endorsement press releases on corporate and labor organization web sites, stipulating four conditions, but in general enabling a corporation or labor organization to post a press release announcing a candidate endorsement on its web site without limiting access to the press release to its restricted class.  The provision would not allow the corporation or labor organization to post express advocacy materials, such as banner advertisements, for a candidate.

            All comments on the NPRM should be addressed to Rosemary C. Smith, Assistant General Counsel, and must be submitted in either written or electronic form.  Written comments should be sent to the Federal Election Commission, 999 E. Street, NW, Washington, DC 20463.  Faxed comments should be sent to (202)-219-3923, with printed copy follow-up to ensure legibility.  Electronic mail comments should be sent to internetnprm@fec.gov.  Those sending comments by electronic mail must include full name, electronic mail address, and postal service address within the text of their comments.

            Full text of the NPRM is in the October 3 Federal Register (66 FR 50358).   Close of the comment period is December 3, 2001.

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