Campaign Contribution Disclosure and Technological Change:

Paul Sherman of the Institute for Justice raises an interesting set of questions:

When discussing the Buckley and Brown holdings on disclosure, I think it's important to keep in mind that both decisions were written years before the Internet made campaign-finance data easily available to anyone with an idle curiosity in your political activity. In 1976 the average donor probably didn't have much to fear from having their contributions disclosed, because the cost of accessing that data was relatively high. But when that data can be accessed with just a few keystrokes, methods of retaliation that are already virtually impossible to detect or prove suddenly become very low cost. How can I demonstrate to a court, for example, that I was denied a job because I made a contribution to a disfavored candidate or ballot initiative? With employers routinely performing Google searches of job applicants, is it unreasonable to think this happens with some frequency?

I don't know the answers to these questions, or to the broader question of what should happen to campaign finance law in light of these questions. But I do think these are much worth considering.

For more from the Institute for Justice on this, see Disclosure Costs: Unintended Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform, and Campaign Finance Red Tape: Strangling Free Speech and Political Debate.