July 11, 2000 Policy

Political Activity and the Internet

00A107

American Bar Association

Standing Committee on Election Law
Section of Business Law
Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division

Resolution

RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association urges Congress, the States, and the Territories to review their respective election laws as they relate to election and campaign activity on the Internet and to apply those laws in a manner that does not discourage political activity through this medium, upholds First Amendment guarantees of free speech and association, and seeks to eliminate opportunities for unfairness, corruption or undue influence through the use of this medium.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association urges that Congress and the appropriate regulatory bodies at the federal, state, and territorial level take appropriate steps to encourage and facilitate the use of the Internet by all segments of society in order to promote widespread, fair and equitable citizen participation in the political process.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association urges that Congress and the appropriate regulatory bodies at the federal, state, and territorial level take the following actions in order to promote the availability and reliability of political information and discourse on the Internet:

  1. Mechanisms and safeguards to ensure the integrity of authentic political web sites should be developed. Specifically, a uniform statement of registration should be developed that candidates and political committees could choose to place on their respective web sites. In addition, an Internet domain should be established for the purpose of only registering the domain names of current federal, state and local officeholders and candidates.
  2. Senate candidates and Senatorial campaign committees of the parties should be required to file electronic disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission consistent with current federal law as it applies to other congressional candidates and committees.
  3. The frequency of mandatory reporting periods for political committees should be increased to promote more timely online disclosure of contributions and expenditures.
  4. Any regulations, advisory opinions, or other statutory interpretations addressing political activity on the Internet should include provisions that will facilitate a periodic review of such regulatory rulings.
  5. The Federal Election Commission should be encouraged to use currently permitted expedited procedures when considering the application of federal election rules to the Internet.