AO 2019-12: Area 1 Security may offer committees cybersecurity services at little or no cost
Area 1 Security, a cybersecurity company that provides anti-phishing solutions, may offer its services to federal candidates and political committees at the same “low or no cost” tier that it offers to all qualified customers without making an impermissible in-kind contribution.
Area 1 is a cybersecurity provider that preempts phishing threats and stops them before they can damage clients. Area 1 provides these services for free or at low cost to organizations with limited financial resources that lack full-time security staff. To qualify for this pricing, organizations must have fewer than 5,000 employees, and must provide Area 1 with an opportunity to improve its research and development initiatives. Area 1 asks if it may provide these services to candidates and political committees on a nonpartisan basis within its established “little to no cost” pricing tier at $1,337 per year.
The Federal Election Campaign Act and Commission regulations prohibit corporations from making contributions to federal candidates and political committees that make contributions to federal candidates. Commission regulations define “contribution,” in part, as the provision of goods and services at less than the “usual and normal charge,” or at less than the commercially reasonable prevailing rate. Because Area 1 would offer its anti-phishing services in the ordinary course of business, on the same terms and conditions that it offers to non-political clients, and at the same rate as its non-political clients, the Commission concluded that the proposal will not result in prohibited in-kind contributions.
Date issued: July 11, 2019; Length: 4 pages