Politics & Government

California's Fair Political Practices Commission aims to regulate online campaigning

Tweeters, bloggers and Facebook users beware: The state Fair Political Practices Commission is on to you.

Online political activity has long been considered a Wild West of unregulated free speech, where everything from YouTube videos to Facebook postings can circulate without any hint of who paid for them.

Today, the five-member commission is likely to take an important first step to ending that online party.

It's poised to write rules that would require campaigns to follow the same guidelines governing old-world media such as TV commercials and mailers.

That means requiring text on online ads that disclose the spots' funders, and campaign finance information that says who paid for the Facebook pages of candidates and political committees.

The recommendations by the commission's Subcommittee on Internet Political Activity, however, exempt those who spend less than $1,000 to get their online message out in an effort to protect "grassroots political activity by ordinary citizens."

They also largely leave untouched the state's army of political bloggers, even those paid for their work by campaigns.

Campaigns are already required to report any money they pay to bloggers, the subcommittee's report said.

"It's important for voters to know who's paying for that information, but you don't want to impose such a burden that it interferes with that communication," said committee chairman Dan Schnur. "We don't make skywriters disclose the source of their funding, so there's logical limits to what can and should be accomplished online."

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.