David R. Henderson  

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FTC Takes First Step in Regulating Internet

Alarming Development on Internet Catches Government's Attention

What some fail to realize, though, is that such reviews can be tainted: Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post. Bloggers vary in how they disclose such freebies, if they do so at all.

The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers - as well as the companies that compensate them - for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.

This is from, "FTC plans to monitor blogs for claims, payments", Washington Post, June 21, 2009.

No word yet on whether the FTC plans to go after Congressmen and political appointees who fail to disclose conflicts of interest when they advocate particular policies after having received thousands of dollars from those who stand to benefit from the policies.

H/T to Karen De Coster


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Jesse writes:

"No word yet on whether the FTC plans to go after Congressmen and political appointees who fail to disclose conflicts of interest when they advocate particular policies after having received thousands of dollars from those who stand to benefit from the policies."

Oh, snap! Very nicely put, but I guess the sad truth of the matter is that not only will the FTC do nothing of the sort but the majority of the public won't even think about that aspect.

Dr. T writes:

One of the points made during Obama's campaign was that his administration would be better than Bush's and more ethical. I fail to see how it is ethical to adopt regulations that violate the First Amemdment. If I create a blog and brag about my old, reliable Subaru Legacy GT, it's no one's business whether I receive any compensation from Subaru. I may choose to post my involvement with Subaru, but the FTC should not be able to force me to either make such a statement or remove from my blog all favorable comments about my Subaru.

I also foresee a follow-up FTC ruling: if you say bad things about a product, you will have to indicate whether you receive compensation from (or own stock in) a competitor.

David C writes:

How does this fall under the jurisdiction of the FTC and not the FCC?

Do they go after magazines and television too?

This is a serious violation of freedom of the press, but this isn't the first time the government has used a double standard on the internet vs. other forms of media.

Vadim writes:

Mr. T, the FTC is an independent commission and, I'm pretty sure 3 of the 5 commissioners are GOP appointees, and all of them are pre-Obama.

There are many things you can fault him for, but I don't think this is one of them.

This isn't really a partisan thing. Regulatory capture is a fact of life. When politicians claim otherwise and promise a more ethical government -- and both sides do -- they're either naive or lying.

Hey, here's an idea. The FTC couldn't do this if there was no FTC...

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