Thursday, October 8, 2009

FTC blogging rule continue to draw fire

I've been looking, but I haven't found anyone who likes the latest FTC attempt to rein in Internet abuses. One of the most devastating comes from Slate's Jack Shafer who sees the potential for intimidation as greater than anything else he's seen. For example, he writes, "If you received a gratis novel from the publicity department of a publisher and posted a tweet about it without disclosing that the book was a freebie, you become an "endorser" in the FTC's view."

Furthermore, Shafer says, "The guidelines have to be read to be believed. They are written so broadly that if you blog about a good and service in such a way that the FTC construes as an endorsement, the commission has a predicate to investigate."

Frankly, I think the case is a bit overstated, but he's correct that the rules could be abused, just as free speech laws have been abused at the last four major political conventions (thousands of demonstrators arrested, but never charged and released after the conventions were over). We Americans do seem to write broad laws (this is just a rule, but it works like a law) that can be abused, and, alas, someone always seems to go too far.

If you want to read more on this subject, there's lots more out there. Simple searches of news aggregater sites will find plenty.

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