The Government Is Trying To Regulate Your Online Speech Again

he Federal Election Commission is trying to regulate online speech, again. In a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the FEC is seeking to add additional public comments to the previously proposed rules from 2016. These new comments would modernize the agency’s regulations. This comes after technical advances in communications, recordkeeping, and financial transactions, which could be expected since their last action. The FEC also claims that this act would eliminate and update references to outdated technologies, while also correcting the tech issues they are currently having.

Why does it matter?

Citizens United, a social welfare organization, issued a statement to the FEC and FEC assistant general counsel Amy Rothstein to fight against the implications this would have on the American people. While the FEC is attempting to modernize its records, the NPRM “goes too far” according to Citizens United. They wrote in their letter to Rothstein, that “commissioners must recognize the serious threats to the online free speech rights of all Americans that lurk in the Supplemental NPRM.” They feel as though the supplemental NPRM could go “well beyond merely adding new disclaimer requirements for paid online advertising initiatives,” that if adopted could “sharply reduce substantive freedoms currently protected under the FEC’s Internet Exemptions.”

How will it affect you?

The Commission’s Supplemental NPRM is proposing an expanded definition of “public communication” and “internet public communication” to encompass in addition to traditional advertising fees. So in addition to traditional advertising fees, the FEC is attempting to add regulations to third-party websites, digital devices or applications, or advertising platforms.


These new additions could intrude into personal freedoms people and companies on the internet have had and should continue to have. These new revisions could change technology, staff costs, and the dissemination of content through republishings or boosts, by regulating contributions or expenditures with third-party advertising platforms.

Citizens United and the Citizens United Foundation do not believe these new revisions are warranted, rather they could infringe on first amendment rights.