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U.S. Political Parties Take On the Web

Political parties are heating up this year's election activities on the Web, but the Democratic National Committee most likely won't win many votes with fee-based Internet service providers.

Democrat's Friday launched its politically charged free ISP service through access facilitator MillionEyes.com.

The DNC is pitching its free Internet access program as a bridge over the "Digital Divide." Located at FreeDEM.com, DNC National Chair Joe Andrew said Democrats are proud to become the first political party to offer free Internet access for all.

"The Democratic Party is a party by the people and for the people," Andrew said. "Providing quality Internet access to all citizens, regardless of financial status or political party preference, will be a major step toward building more on-ramps to the information superhighway and closing the gap between the wired and non-wired communities."

Developed by Massachusetts-based iBelong.com, the DNC portal is designed to be a gateway to all kinds of political information, as well as a source for up-to-the-minute news, weather, stock quotes, sports updates, and more.

Edward G. Rendell, DNC general chairman, said the portal is a way for all American's to get more involved in the political process through online resources.

"Along with providing valuable Internet and e-mail service, we want to encourage all people to become involved in our nation's political process," Rendell said. FreeDEM.com will be another innovative way for Democrats to communicate and have their voices heard."

Visitors to freeDEM.com are invited to participate in, lead and contribute to online discussion groups and message boards to voice their views on any subject.

MillionEyes.com develops marketing partnerships with companies and organizations by offering private-label, turnkey ISP solutions.

Donnie Gross, MillionEyes.com chairman and chief executive officer, said the DNC service would provide full access to all that the Internet has to offer for the cost of a local phone call.

"Because income is the factor that determines whether a family can afford a computer and the monthly fees required to connect to the Internet, we're pleased to help the DNC make its service free to everyone," Gross said.

DNC's Andrew said working with MillionEyes.com would allow it to bring thousands of people into the on-line community that in the past have been unable to afford it.

"The Democratic Party believes that the way to make this country even greater is to give everyone equal opportunity to make the most of his or her potential and the Internet is one way to do that," Andrew said.

The DNC free ISP access can be downloaded from the Web or installed from a CD-ROM starter kit. MillionEyes.com dial-up access is available nationwide through more than 2,500 points-of-presence for local dial-up service. The firm will also provide 24-7 customer support online and offline.

Not to be out-maneuvered on the Web, House Republicans Friday launched a new Web portal dubbed Federal Election Commission strictly oversees traditional media and campaign financing, but regulators do not have any Internet laws on the books at this ti