FEC Creates Exception to Federal Disclosure Requirements For All Federal Candidates Who Distribute Political Advertising Over Wireless Phones
On Thursday, August 22, 2002, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruled 4-1 in favor of a petition from a high-tech New Jersey firm that requested a new disclosure exemption for wireless SMS distribution of political advertising for candidates seeking Federal office.
On the grounds of limited space, the FEC held in an advisory opinion that it was appropriate to create a new exception to disclosure requirements for Federal candidates who employ SMS text messaging over wireless telephones.
Precedent played a significant role in determining the Commission's decision in this matter. The FEC had already created exceptions to disclosure requirements for bumper stickers, skywriting, water towers and novelty items such as pens and pencils.
This petition was filed by FANCASTER, Inc., doing business as TARGET WIRELESS, a New Jersey-based company that is one of the nation's leading firms working in wireless media today. "Packaging news together with political candidate advertising and related sponsorships makes all the sense in the world", according to Craig Krueger, President of Target Wireless who added that "candidates cannot and will not ignore the realities of today's mobile society. Wireless, like all other new media is becoming a complement to traditional media vehicles currently being leveraged by federal candidates today."
Krueger emphasized that political advertising that is transmitted via SMS text messaging will be conducted on an opt-in only basis where subscribers may elect to receive candidate sponsored content in exchange for discounted or free services.
Due to the fact that maximum character capacity for all SMS text messages can never exceed 160 characters, the Target Wireless petition, prepared by Washington, DC law firm, Caplin & Drysdale, successfully argued that FEC disclosure requirements would effectively deny this new media vehicle to candidates seeking Federal office.
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