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Campaigning, Internet and the Law

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Pri Desai

Campaigning, Internet and the Law

Abstract: Political campaigns use several methods to implore voters to vote in a particular direction. Whether it be through the press, news media, radio or the Internet, campaigns have always embraced emerging technologies and have utilized various platforms in the best interest of their candidate. As the world has become increasingly digital, voters are looking to the Internet when researching candidates. Recently, social media, google search, blog posts and other online mediums have been sources of information to the voter that had not previously existed. Having acknowledged this, many campaigns strategically have utilized the web to gather information on voters. The question this paper seeks to address is whether a campaign’s use of technology, primarily in their application of social media and search engines, have any legal implications.

Part I of this paper gives a brief overview of recent ways in which the Internet has taken a role in modern political campaigns. Part I will also go into detail about two specific campaign methods. The first method addresses the targeting of users through social media platforms such as Facebook. The second method shows how search engine manipulation can alter the perception of a specific candidate. Part II will explore the legal implications of these campaign tactics. This portion will also explore how the different legal entities interact election law and their oversight over the campaign process. This section will also raise several hypotheticals to better understand how the law could be applied to in situations where the Internet can deeply influence voters. The last section, Part III, will discuss whether the current laws are adequate in addressing the Internet’s influence over politics or whether there should be novel solutions for this issue.


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