FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman spoke to the TechFreedom podcastabout alleged Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election and what our response should be to it. We covered this twice last week (Thursdayand Friday), but Commissioner Goodman's important message bears repeating:
My primary concern is that we not overreact to things that we cannot control and out of frustration, start regulating American citizens and make them guilty or responsible or punish them for what some bad actors do abroad. . . . It would be very difficult for the U.S. government to enforce our laws against a foreign person sitting on foreign soil posting information about U.S. politics on a foreign computer on a foreign server. That would be very difficult. We shouldn't, out of frustration, start regulating and punishing American citizens in their use of the internet because there's a lot of social good in the United States from that use. . . .
Recent news reports are that there may have been $100,000 to $150,000 in ads spent by foreign sources on a range of subjects, some of which may not be in the Federal Election Commission's jurisdiction but under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice in the Foreign Agents Registration Act. But those ads are a drop in the ocean of information available from foreign sources on the world wide web. . . . We have all sorts of foreign information available to use from U.S. politics generally. . . .
I'm not sympathetic to foreign meddling or influence in our elections. I'm just saying that it is ubiquitous, ok? Let's not go attacking the free speech rights of American citizens first as an effort to get to capillaries of foreign speech. Let's target foreign speakers in whatever we do, and let's not at first target the civil liberties of American citizens. . . . We have a long history of overreaction and diminishing the civil liberties of American citizens in order to get at some of the pores that may be open for foreign influence, and I say let's get at the pores. . . .
The entire podcast provides an excellent overview of this issue, the factual realities, current law, and how the free speech of Americans could be threatened by a rush to regulate political advertising on the internet.