Center for Democracy & TechnologyThe Internet is a powerful forum for citizen political participation. In the last few federal elections, ordinary citizens used the Internet to organize, raise money, report the news, and offer commentary, and they had a significant impact on the 2004 Presidential campaign. The 2006 election promises an even more influential role for Internet activists.

New federal campaign finance rules for the Internet have freed bloggers and almost all other citizen-initiated political advocacy on the Internet from any regulation. You can be a part of the online revolution in politics, help reinvent and reinvigorate our democracy, and transform political discourse. It's a good idea to have a basic understanding of the new rules. Read more.

Quick Checklist for Individual Political Advocacy Online:

  1. I actively engage in political debate on some of the leading online political blogs.
  2. I talk with friends online about politics on chat sites, and through instant messaging or "voice over IP" (VoIP) services.
  3. I am active on social networking sites, and I post material about my favorite candidates, including copies of their literature and links to their campaign web sites.
  4. I plan to send e-mails to all of my friends in my address book encouraging them to vote for a candidate, and forward campaign literature with my e-mails.
  5. I've made a short video supporting or attacking a federal candidate and have posted it on a free video-sharing site.
  6. I run my own blog (or my own website) and I express my political views and post campaign material on my site, but I don't sell ad space on the site.
  7. I collaborate with a group of friends in my online political activities, but as a group we do not collaborate in offline political work or plan to buy online advertisements.
  8. I don't plan on buying advertisements on any blogs or websites to express my political opinions.
  9. I don't receive payments of any kind from any campaign or candidate.
  10. The only funds I spend on my online political activities are my basic costs for my computer, my Internet access, and (if I have my own web site) my domain name and web hosting fees.

If the above points describe the full extent of your online political activities, then you are almost certainly not subject to regulation by the campaign finance laws. If you are unsure or want to know more, click on the different online activities to the right.

What You Need to Know...

BloggingBlogging
How the campaign finance rules will affect bloggers

Social NetworkingSocial Networking
Protections for social networking

Operating a Web SiteOperating a Web Site
The impact on the Web

Video and PodcastingVideo and Podcasting
Political videos online

E-mailing and IME-mailing and IM
No rules for most direct contacts

Political AdvertisingPolitical Advertising
The one area that the campaign finance laws squarely cover

Funding Provided By...
Carnegie Corporation of New York